Tag Archives: guest blog

Anniversary Blog Hop: I have a contract. NOW WHAT?

Last week on Crescent Moon Press’ Blog, I posted my pitch to my publisher.  It was my first and it wasn’t pretty, but I caught the eye of the editor and here I am today.  But what happened between then and now.  Boy, a whole lot!  (Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post and Crescent Moon Press’ Blog and be entered to win signed print copy of Soul Reborn, see details below)

I remember being so stunned by the contract offer.  It took about a month and then I received my first edit reviews and was surprised there wasn’t more red letters and highlighted sections.  I thought wow, maybe this won’t be so bad.  Little did I know the first edits were story structure and plot, which tends to be one of my strengths.  Let’s just say the second and third passes were bloody.  Don’t even talk to me about passive writing.  Ack!  I worked so hard to remove it, I will never make that mistake again.

I think the fabulous part of it all was that my editor was as much a mentor as she was my editor.  She did an amazing job.  I laughed at my own mistakes and learned some hard lessons, all of which have made me be a better writer today.  This is a tough industry and to say you must have tough skin is an understatement.  The key that made it such a great experience was the fact that I wanted her to be brutal, because it forced me to learn and change my habits as a writer.  It was very important not to take her feedback personally. She wanted this book to succeed as much as I did.

Of course I can’t help but share one of my editorial comments.  Like I said before, I did a lot of laughing at myself. A. LOT.

Not many authors share their faults, but what the hell– it’s my anniversary!

Editors comments on my CRUTCH PHRASES:  “You really, really, REALLY love the phrases “clenched teeth” and “ground teeth.” It seems like someone is clenching or grinding their teeth every page or so, sometimes more than once per page. We can’t have that. Delve deeper into the 98% of communication that is nonverbal and find more ways to show your characters’ frustration/irritation. I started marking the ones I saw about halfway through the manuscript. Globally searching for “teeth” and “jaw” should root out most of them. Have fun!”

Her comments inspired me to share my experience.  This is an archived post that I released shortly before my book was released.

********************

What I learned from my editor in the first 60 days: “Oh, how I love to “grind my teeth.” Crutch phrases and everything else in between…

I picked my favorite lesson out of the list because I can’t help but laugh every time I see it. “Oh, how I love to grind my teeth” or as it were “Oh, how my characters loved to grind their teeth.”

Being a new writer has its challenges. It is a learning process every step of the way, and thank god for my editor, Heather Howland at Crescent Moon Press. She has held my hand through editing Soul Reborn and its journey to publication. I can’t thank her enough.

Yes, writing about emotion and the display of it is very difficult for a new writer. Whether it is inexperience or laziness, we use phrases over and over and over again. Apparently, my idea of showing frustration was teeth grinding and jaw clenching. My hero, Asar- Egyptian God of the Underworld, is a very intense character, angry and bitter. Poor guys soulless. He gets very frustrated with the heroine, Lilly. She is a serious distraction from his quest for vengeance. For as many times as he ground his teeth (67 occurrences) and clenched (19) his jaw, he would have nubs for dentition and TMJ by the end of the story. A dentist’s nightmare.

Lesson one: Find other body parts and gestures to display negative emotion.
As humans, non-verbal body language is a very important component of communication. It conveys how an individual may be feeling with or without verbal stimuli. It includes body posture, gestures, facial expression and eye movements. Research suggests anywhere between 60-90 percent of our communication is non-verbal. We process these non-verbal cues on a subconscious level. Astounding!

Whether we are using gestures, body posture or even the distance we place ourselves from another individual all conveys some meaning. Some unintentional gestures can act as a lie detector. Using these concepts in our writing empowers the characters, makes them real to the reader. Okay, easier said than done. Right?

How did I solve my problem? I decided I need to make some observations. What better place to pick up on negative non-verbal communication than the metro station in DC. Not a whole lot of verbal communication goes on between strangers in this environment and who wouldn’t be frustrated packed into a metro car with millions of other people invading their personal space.

Frustration cues
Arms crossed over chest
Rubbing/scratching the back of the neck/head
Running fingers through the hair
Short breaths exhaling in small puffs through nose
Clenching hands
Pointing one index finger
And yes, clenching jaw and teeth

Mix these gestures with facial expressions, body posture and verbal exchange and your character comes alive.

What is your favorite crutch phrase? What have you learned about yourself in your writing process? Please take a moment to share…

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So, there you have it.  From contact to release were some of the hardest days in my writing career.  Writing the stories are easy compared to tearing them apart and accepting your flaws, but in the end the reward was worth THIS…

To see my first cover:

Crescent Moon Press

 To announcing Soul Reborn’s release:

https://wickedromance.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/soul-reborn-available-on-kindle/

To reading my first reviews:

5-slipper review

To attend my first conference & book signing:

Thank you!!

Look out for more things to come. 

Leave a comment on the Anniversary Blog Hop posts and be entered to win a signed print copy of Soul Reborn!   (print- US/Canada only; ebook- international)

1st Stop:  Crescent Moon Press Blog

2nd Stop:  This Post

3rd Stop:  My first conference and Book  Signing.  Is that Lara Adrian?

4th Stop: Last day of Sale/Sunday, July 15th.  The Journey Continues: Book II

6 Comments

Filed under Craft, Key to the Cursed, Lessons in 60 days

How it all began…

Come join my anniversary blog hop.

I’m over at Crescent Moon Press’ Blog reminiscing about the pitch that sold my manuscript.  The once titled Lion’s Flower found a new home and a new name, Soul Reborn.  See how it all started.

Don’t forget…

1 Comment

Filed under Events, PROMO, Soul Reborn

Midsummer Night’s Blog Hop ~ Asar welcomes Matty to Aaru

What hempen home-spuns have we swagg’ring here, so near the cradle of the fairy queen? Puck, Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Blog Hop has high hopes of honoring the 2012 summer solstice with a character interview spectacle. Characters will be interviewed not by author/reviewer bloggers…but other characters. The twist…the characters will be paired by lots drawn out of a hat.

See participating authors, characters and links below….

Jean Murray + Wendy Russo

Asar, Egyptian God of the Underworld, desires vengeance at all costs against a malevolent goddess that stole his soul. Meanwhile, he serves as judge, jury, and executioner for the souls seeking refuge in Aaru, Paradise Isle of the Underworld. Seventeen-year-old Matty Ducayn, an unruly math-minded genius and occasional smart ass, may offend Asar in three seconds flat. Or maybe not.

Gate to the Afterlife

The fun continues with our character interviews….

Asar paced the short slab of sandstone walk in the garden.  His gaze was met by smiling green eyes.

“You are going to wear a hole in the garden path if you keep this up.  Why are you so nervous anyways?”

He stopped and sat next to his wife on steps and looked out over the green expanse of flowering bushes and trees. Lilly leaned against his shoulder, which prompted him to wrap his arm around her waist and tug her closer to his side. “I have no idea. I have faced down harden criminals without blinking an eye, but this boy, Matty…” Asar shook his head and smiled. “I like him very much. He is curious and is not swayed easily by my presence. Much like you on the day you stood up to me in the tunnel.”

She chuckled. “I like Matty already.”

“You would.” He brushed his thumb over her smooth pale cheek. “He has gotten me thinking though. Have you given it any thought of having our own children?”

“Asar, I…”

The familiar weight of energy press in around them. Black smoke rose from the floor. Matty’s physical form solidified out of the air, shadowed by his brother, Kamen.  Asar stole one last glance at Lilly before rising to his feet. He would have to wait for his answer.

“Matty,” Asar said extending his hand for the boy to grasp, more out of need to stabilize him than a friendly greeting. “The dizziness will pass quickly, just keep breathing.”

“The air is sparkly,” he said breathlessly. The boy blinked his eyes.

“Here let me help, Matty.”  Lilly brushed her hand over his sandy blonde hair. “It’s not easy getting your molecules scrambled. It took me awhile to get used to it.”  His wife’s ability to heal would quickly make the boy feel human again.

“That’s a great trick…Lilly, is it?”

She smiled. “It is very nice to meet you.  Asar has told me much about your world.  I also hear you like astronomy.  Well, you’ll get to see the stars tonight.  Orion’s belt, Ursa Major and Minor.”

“Northern hemisphere constellations!” the boy said excitedly. “That means Mars and Saturn will be on the western horizon at dusk. Leo and Gemini, too!”

Matty turned slowly in a circle. His eyes widened when the enormous sandstone palace came into view. The sun glinted off the gold shields on the front entrance. “Huh.”

“Is everything to your liking?” Asar inquired.

“I expected beautiful…paradise isle, you said.” Matty cupped his hand under a flower, but didn’t touch it. “Underworld…I wasn’t expecting sun.”

“Aaru is a reflection of the human realm, but the cycles are in opposition.  Morning here.  Night and evening there.”  Asar turned to Kamen and gasped his forearm. “Thank you. I will take things from here, brother.”

”He doesn’t talk much, does he?” the boy asked, glancing in Kamen’s direction.

“Kamen is not known for his idle conversation.” Asar shifted his gaze to Lilly. “Matty, you already guessed that this is Lilly.” His eyes lingered on his wife, but he was drawn back to the boy. “I want to show you something before we go into the archive.  Follow me.”

Asar led the group around the edge of the palace to the beach. The serpentine river of the Underworld snaked off into the distance. He knelt next to Matty and pointed. “See the temple there…just to the right of it is a large expansive gate that traverses the width of the river. Do you know what that is on the other side, Matty?”

With his eyes glued to the massive structure, the boy shook his head.

“Those are the gates that separate Duat from Aaru. The temple you see to the left is the Hall of Judges, where the souls come to be weighed. Those worthy will pass and live eternity in the isle you see across the river.”

“Some doors cannot be opened once closed,” the boy said quietly, “or closed once open.”

Asar knew a smart intellectual boy like Matty would understand and appreciate what he was seeing. No living human had ever gazed upon the gates, except maybe Lilly and her sisters, but that was an unusual circumstance in and of itself.  Asar gathered the phrase Matty spoke had a more personal significance than a time honored cliché.  “Your appraisal holds truth. Where did you come by it?”

“A conversation I had with Hadrian a while back,” Matty explained. “When he gave me his challenge, he also gave me the option of going home…to my grandfather’s ranch in the country, but cautioned that some doors cannot be opened once closed.”

“Ah, carpe diem. Seize the day,” Lilly added. “A very well served lesson. So which did you choose?  The challenge or going home?  You don’t strike me as the stay at home and twiddle your thumbs kind of guy.”

Matty snorted.  “Home’s nice,” Matty said with a nod. “My dad’s more concerned with consequences.”

“I only saw a small sliver of your world. Can you tell me more about it and its King? King Hadrian, right?” Asar pressed.

“Hadrian’s got a lot of layers,” said Matty. The boy met Asar’s gaze for the first time since walking onto the beach. “I can tell you this because we’re here. At home, I’m bound by this thing called The Privacy Act. Discussion of the king’s private affairs is a quick way to earn 18 months in jail.”

“No first amendment rights? I’m not down with that.” Lilly scowled.

“You need not worry, Matty. Your transgression is safe with us,” Asar joked, hiding his own concern over the matter.  Even he would not be so harsh and that was saying a lot. Asar headed up the steps from the beach to the Palace hall. Matty followed at his side and appeared to be lost to his own thoughts.

“There are four Hadrians…and which one you get depends more on who you are than him. In Old World kingdoms, being the king was the greatest honor, but in Columbia…Hadrian’s not just the king. He’s the president of the assembly. He’s the prime executive officer of Steer Industries…the company that facilitated my ancestor’s migration. It’s not taught in school, but sources my schoolmasters would consider disreputable say that one man having all that power is not good for society.”

“We have our own problems with certain individuals wanting to dominate.  I’ll join the merry band of disreputables in saying tyranny is bad for society. Even the Pantheons are not set up with one ruler. Asar shares rein with the Mother Goddess.”

“Hadrian makes the risk hard to see. Past the glamour and the guardians, he’s rather boring. He works 16 hour days, comes home nightly to an empty house. He cooks his own supper, cleans his kitchen, and goes to bed. On his rare days off, he reads, naps on his couch. Once he took a sledgehammer and demolished his bathroom, but other than that, his house is exactly as his father left it almost 18 years ago. In a word, I’d call him lonely.”

“The King has shown interest in you. What about your natural father?  He is a general?” Asar asked.

Natural…” the boy scoffed with clear sarcasm. “Centuries ago, our first Assemblymen were the officers of the January Black, the ship that brought our ancestors to Aventine and now lays at the bottom of our bay. When the need arose for someone to oversee the staff of the capitol hill, they called that man ‘commandant.’ Today, my father is that man.”

“There must be expectations of you. It has not left you much room for fun, has it?” Asar asked.

“Oh, I’ve made time for fun,” Matty told them. “My fun is what caught Hadrian’s attention.”

“Tell me of the quest your King has sent you on?” Asar knew better than to think the boy had chosen home over the challenge set before him.

“In Columbia, it is nearly impossible to work for the government without a diploma from the Regents’ School, so when one of my stunts got me expelled, it pretty much ruined any chance I had of living up to the expectation you mentioned.  Not that I cared. I was perfectly happy to go to my grandfathers, but my admission was sponsored by Hadrian, so I had embarrassed him as well. Or I would have, if he had cared, which as I learned that night, he really didn’t. He offered me a Regent master’s diploma…which would qualify me to work in any government office I wanted…if I answered a question.”

Asar pulled to a stop and looked down at young boy. Lilly clasped his hand and squeezed. “What question would be worth what he offered you?”

“What was January Black?” The boy replied. “On the surface, it’s a silly question. It’s a ship, as I mentioned before. But the catch to Hadrian’s challenge is that the answer must satisfy him, and that’s not the answer he wants.  Every road I’ve followed has led to black holes and locked doors.”

Asar guided his young guest to two large ornate gold doors with crystal handles.  “Perhaps you are here for doors you can unlock?”

The boy looked at Lilly anxiously, then back to Asar. His hands fiddled in front of him. “I should mention, um…I uh…I have a…biological response to the smell of old books.”

“I should introduce you to my sister, Kendra.  She gets high off old book smell.  You two could balance each other out.” Lilly laughed.

Asar guided the doors open. Matty held his breath and walked in with his eyes closed. After a moment, he blew out his breath and opened his eyes. With mouth gaping Matty slowly shuffled down the center aisle of the archive.  Large statues rose from the thick black stone and shoulder the massive arched ceiling. Hieroglyphics etched into the ebony marble told a story of a past long since forgotten.  Rows of books too many to count lined the outer walls of the expansive room. Only a few wooden tables stood off to the side.  The most impressive pieces lay in the middle of the room, relics saved from the ruin in the human realm.  Treasures of the pharaohs.  Treasures of earth.

“Two-point-seven-one-eight-one…” Matty mumbled off a stream of numbers.

Asar looked at his wife for a clue of what it meant. She shrugged.

“It’s like Hadrian’s library went supernova.”

“Do you see something that interests you?” Asar asked.

“Everything,” the boy said greedily.  Asar was surprised at the amount of sorrow hidden beneath the boy’s excitement. But then again, he only had a few hours to explore. Matty’s disappointment evaporated, his attention claimed by an object on display. A sextant, a device used by sailors to find their way at sea. “I’ll settle for holding that in my hands,” he said.

“Absolutely!  Take as much time as you want, Matty.” Asar watched the boy’s facial expressions. They were nothing short of reverence and awe.  This boy was truly special. The warm press of his wife’s hand on his arm drew his attention away for a moment.

“You look sad,” she said, as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her back against his chest. He could still see the boy conversing with the sextant.

“Do I?”

“You’re worried about him.”

“Sorry, I did not mean to burden you.” He should have known that Lilly would feel his concern through their bond. It was a blessing, but also made it difficult keeping feelings private.

“Do you think King Hadrian’s challenge is a ploy?” Lilly asked.

The same question had been bouncing around in his own head.  Asar held his tongue.  He did not want to think the King would abuse his power and put the boy at risk. Gods know, he had witnessed Kings behaving badly over several thousand years of human history.  Even the Pantheons of the gods were not immune to it.  Not a safe time to raise young ones, he thought sadly.

There were no certainties, but one– Matty finding the answer to his question.

Book of the Dead

Wendy Russo is a Big Horn Basin girl transplanted in South Louisiana. Her writing draws from philosophy, pop culture, classic literature, religion, art, anthropology, math, and science. She enjoy writing inquisitive and introspective characters. I like slow reveals and snowballing climaxes. Her novel, January Black, will be released January 2013 by Crescent Moon Press.

January Black….

Sixteen-year-old Matty Ducayn is a disappointment to everyone who knows him.  As the son of The Hill’s commandant, he is expected conform to a strict, unspoken code of conduct. Small acts of defiance over years—like playing in the dirt and walking on the grass—have earned him a reputation for being unruly, but it’s his sarcastic test answers that finally get him expelled from school. Instead of punishing him, King Hadrian offers Matty a diploma, with a catch. He must answer a question: What was January Black?

With the help of Iris, a gardener on his father’s staff, Matty takes his quest beyond The Hill’s walls and tightly controlled media. But trying to solve the puzzle puts him on a collision course with the Janus Law, a royal decree mandating death to those who trespass in a forbidden garden. Has Hadrian set him up from the beginning to lose?

*****

Jean Murray, the owner of Wicked Romance, was born and raised in a small town on the east coast. In her pursuit of a nursing degree, she aspired to see the world and joined the Navy. One of the benefits of her membership in the Armed Forces, she has had the opportunity to travel and live in different parts of the world and the United States. Her travels abroad have given her the opportunity to experience different cultures. It inspired her to delve into Ancient Egyptian myths and legends for her debut novel, Soul Reborn, book 1 in the Key to the Cursed series from Crescent Moon Press, now available.

Soul Reborn….

THE HUMAN REALM, HIS BATTLEFIELD.

Asar, the Egyptian God of the Underworld, has been tortured and left soulless by a malevolent goddess, relegating him to consume the very thing he was commissioned to protect. Human souls. Now an empty shell of hatred, Asar vows to kill the goddess and anyone involved in her release, but fate crosses his path with a beautiful blonde huntress who has a soul too sweet to ignore.

DEADLY SECRETS BETTER LEFT UNEARTHED.

Lilly, fearless commander of the Nehebkau huntresses, is the only thing standing in the way of the goddess’ undead army unleashing hell on earth.  But Lilly has a secret-one she is willing to sell her soul to keep. If the Underworld god discovers her role in the dig that released the goddess, she will lose everything, including his heart.

CLICK HERE FOR MATTY’S INTERVIEW OF ASAR!!

MORE AUTHORS.  MORE CHARACTERS.  MORE INTERVIEWS!

The Interviews!


The Interviews!


Gregor Caine + Circe
(Christine Ashworth & Claire Gillian)

Sydney + Poseidon
(Cindy Young-Turner & Sasha Summers)

Caleb + Arland and Kate
(Kinley Baker & Krystal Wade)

Leigh Baxton + Micah Fuller
(Lindsay Loucks & Diane M. Haynes)

Shayla Dormyr + Kara Magari
(Raven Bower & S.M. Boyce)

Kellyn O’Brien + Julianna
(Louann Carroll & Siobhan Muir)

Ivory + Sara Wiley
(Rebecca Hamilton & Sandra Bunino)

Xylia and Landon + Avant
(Avery Olive & Kary Rader)

Asar + Matty Ducayn
(Jean Murray & Wendy Russo)

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Filed under Events, Guest Author, Key to the Cursed, Soul Reborn, Uncategorized

Author Open MIC ~ Welcomes Aaron Ritchey

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I’m so excited to introduce my next guest, Aaron Ritchey.  He is a newly discovered talent that I think is going to be a big hit with YA readers.  Not to mention he has a great sense of humor and always makes his posts entertaining.  So let me tell you a little about Aaron…

Aaron Michael Ritchey was born with Colorado thunderstorms in his soul.  He’s sought shelter as a world traveler, an endurance athlete, a story addict, and even gave serious thought to becoming a Roman Catholic priest.  After too brief a time in Paris, he moved back to the American West and lives semi-comfortably with three forces of nature: a little, blonde hurricane, an artistic tornado, and a beautiful, beautiful blizzard.

He is happiest dancing among the extremes, reading Twilight,  Atlas Shrugged , and A Case for God at the same time.  Like a playlist on shuffle: Fatboy Slim to Rammstein to George Strait to Katy Perry.   He loves the ambiguous and the incongruous.  The beauty of reality, as well as the tragedy.  From the basest evils to the most transcendent good.

So writing Young Adult novels is perfect for him because that is a time of extremes and firsts, and who doesn’t love firsts?    First time on our own, first kisses, first heartbreaks, first everything.  It’s an exciting, dramatic time, and that’s exactly what a good story needs, excitement and drama.

www.aaronmritchey.com

www.facebook.com/theneverprayer

www.twitter.com/aaronmritchey

So let’s get to it…  Aaron, you have the MIC!

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Thanks so much to Jean Murray for letting me take over the Open MIC night.  I’m here to rock the party, rock the party, right.  Since I think the first chapter of my book rocks, I figured I’d go over the anatomy of my first page.  Caution, my first page is anatomically correct.  Or at least I hope it is.

First, a little summary.  My debut novel, The Never Prayer, is a Young Adult Paranormal Romance about a teenage girl named Lena.  Shattered by the death of her parents, she will risk everything to keep her disintegrating family together.  In love with both a demon and an angel, Lena must unravel the mysteries of heaven’s fury and hell’s desire before she loses everything.  Who is the demon?  Who is the angel?  Lena can’t tell the difference, and every minute pushes her closer to the edge.

Here are the first 16 lines:

“I’m not going to do it again,” Lena Marquez whispered to the red purse across the hall from her nestle of blankets. “Never again.”

All of her other purses, scarves, and belts were just shadows hanging from hooks on both sides of the bathroom door, but in the glow of the cracked Thomas the Train nightlight, the red purse glittered. Each sequin like a teardrop of blood.

The heater chugged on sending lukewarm air into the basement apartment, as cold as an icebox. In October, at ten thousand feet, Avalon, Colorado had no pity for the weak or poor. It killed both.

Through anorexic walls, Lena could hear her aunt’s barking cough in the next room. But it wasn’t the coughing that had Lena awake at 4:46 on a Monday morning. It was her three-year-old brother, Joziah, who would wake up any minute.

He was like an alarm clock, same time, every morning. So regular Lena was awake before he asked the questions she couldn’t answer.

Already the work of the day felt like bricks on her chest. Her junior year homework continued to pile up among the dirty laundry around their mattress on the floor.

But first, Jozey, always Jozey, no matter what.

Now, in the opening, I have to do a number of things.  First, gotta hook the reader.  Hopefully, the first paragraph will get you.  I want the reader to wonder, what on earth is she not going to do again, and what does that have to do with her red purse?

In the first lines, I’m also trying to set the mood and setting.  I tried to use strong language here to give the reader a feeling of desperation and tragedy: the cracked nightlight, teardrop of blood, anorexic walls et cetera.

As for setting, I’m hoping the elevation of the town, her sleeping on a mattress on the floor, the thin walls, will tell you she’s poor and struggling.

Finally, I have to give you a sense of who Lena is and why you want to root for her.  I didn’t want to just say she was sixteen, so I described her Junior Year homework.  And the laundry shows she has a lot on her plate, and she is stressed out.

Now, I did a little telling, not showing, in that last line about Jozey but I would hope I did it in such a way as to emphasize it in the mind of the reader.  If you wanna read the rest of the opening, you can visit:  http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/TheNeverPrayer.html because the next paragraphs show Lena nurturing Jozey.  You gotta have a hero people can like, and Lena starts out troubled, alone, kind of bitchy, so I needed a strong sense of her as the hero, taking care of her little brother.

So that’s what I was trying to do with my opening.  One of my favorite moments in the life of this book was at a writers workshop, where my first chapter was being read aloud.  A woman at the workshop started to read it, but she had to stop because she started to cry.  I cried too.  Our eyes met, and we understood each other at that moment, that life can be hard, but there is hope.  Which is really the theme at the heart of my little book.

For more about me and The Never Prayer, you can visit us both at www.aaronmritchey.com.  And of course, I’m on Facebook, as is the book at http://www.facebook.com/TheNeverPrayer.  And I tweet – @aaronmritchey.   If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!

Thanks again, Jean Murray!

********************

Okay, Aaron.  You’re not out of the hot seat yet 🙂 snicker, snicker.

Host:  First, I want to say what beautiful writing you have.  It draws you deep into the story’s character and her plight.  I love to garner emotion from the readers, I write with that very goal.  What is your goal when you right?  What do you want readers to take away from your book?  (I know very deep, but you put me in the mood with your excerpt).

Aaron: You know, I find life very difficult.  Other people seem to skate through the existence as if they have the “how-to-be-a-human” manual in their back pocket.  But then, that’s me comparing my insides to other people’s outsides.  I think we all have our drama.  So in my books, I want to present life as it is, hard, brutal at times, gritty.  But then I bring in the paranormal to show that there is hope, there is joy, there is the impossible around us, to save us when we most need saving.  Life is full of miracles.  If you look for them. 

 

Host:  What is it that draws you to write Young Adult?  How do you get into the head of your teenage heroine?

Aaron: Funny, but I had a guy who wondered how I could channel at sixteen-year-old girl so well.  It’s like Dickens, being a teenager is the best of times and the worst of times.  It is a time of unimaginable growth, where children become adults.  For me, I found the whole thing traumatizing.  I wanted life to be like a sitcom, and it wasn’t, and poor me.  So I remember the angst.  I remember how hard just going to school felt.  I still feel like a teenager sometimes, awkward, afraid, yet courageous.  Immortal.  Yes, teens today face a different world than I faced, but it’s still the human experience.  Still, the same old drama.  As for the girl part, I’m part girl—I loved soap operas growing up, I cry at commercials, I find clothes interesting.  And though I think gender is important, being human is more important.

Host:  So what are readers saying about your book?  Yes, it is okay to brag 🙂

Aaron:  I have had some wonderful reviews on Amazon, some from very talented writers.  It humbles me.  Really.  I love it when someone picks up my book, thinking they are getting the same old, same old—the good versus evil, fallen angel versus evil demon, type of story, and then, it grabs them.  Even those that don’t like the paranormal.  I love it when I hook the skeptics because that means I’ve done my job.  My story isn’t about angels and demons, it’s about life!  The Universe!  Everything!  I’ve been compared to Ray flippin’ Bradbury by one reviewer.  Humbled.  And when I hear the words, “I couldn’t put it down”.  Hurray!

Host:  Now that you have teased us, tell us a little about the male hero of this story?  In your description of the book you mention two love interests—do tell.

Aaron: I can’t say much because part of the fun is that you don’t know who the villain is until about halfway through the book.  Both of Lena’s love interests are broken, one shows it, the other doesn’t.  One is an angel who wants the world to be perfect, and the other is a demon who revels in the despair, desire, and death he sees in people, though you wouldn’t know it at first.  Because of course, a good demon will seduce us before we know he’s a demon.  But I can’t give away too much.  Both are broken, but smoldering hot, ‘cause I love a good romance, and a good romance has to have the hunks.

Host:  As a debut novelist, out of all the milestone in your beginning career what one thing stands out?  Unfair question, I know.

Aaron: Two things.  I made my publicist cry.  Bree Ervin is one tough bird, but she cried when she read my book, and she cried when I signed her copy because without her, I wouldn’t have as many readers as I do now.  You can find her at ThinkBannedThoughts.Com.  The other thing was a night I spent with my friend and official Girl Friday assistant, Chris Devlin.  That Tuesday night, when I was overwhelmed with fear and desperation, Chris and our friend Angie Hodapp sat me down in a Village Inn restaurant and we talked about how everyone is afraid, how everyone is broken in some way.  That night, my life changed.  Writing is hard.  Getting published is hard.  But without Chris Devlin, dang, I don’t know here I’d be.  Prolly either at a methadone clinic or a soup kitchen. If you are looking for help with the administrative tasks of writing, or you need a cracker-jack copy editor, you can find Chris Devlin at http://chrisdevlinwrites.com.

Host:  Do you have any advice for new writers?  Words of wisdom to share?

Aaron:  I will now tell you the secret to life.  Get your pencils and paper ready.  Okay, the secret to life is this: enjoy what you are doing and where you are, right now.  I wish I had relished my pre-publication days.  I wish I had breathed those moments in deep.  Because before you know it, your writing time will be cannibalized by marketing your book, doing signings, et cetera.  And learn to love writing, so you’d rather write than eat ice cream, you’d rather write than watch T.V.  Hemingway has a great quote about when writing becoming your greatest joy, you will do it until you die.  Enjoy the creative process.  Laugh at the funny parts.  Cry at the sad parts.  Relish the stories you write.

Host:  What comes next?  I know you are busy promoting your book.  Where can readers find you?  Conferences, book signings, blogs….

Aaron: If you really wanna follow my madness, My News and Events page on my website has all of my doings.  I just got interviewed on Bookmark Radio, which was a great experience, and I have a book signing in San Jose, California at Hicklebee’s on May 12, 2012 followed by a California launch party on June 14, 2012.  The world is invited.  I’ll be speaking at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in September, 2012, and of course, Mile-Hi Con in Denver, October, 2012.  Before the world ends in December.

As for projects, too many to count.  I am just finishing up another YA Paranormal about a broken girl who has to overcome her own limitations to help her dying grandmother travel to France to see the grandmother’s love from World War II. 

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Aaron, thank you for sharing your story.  I wish you the greatest success with The Never Prayer

It has found its place on my TBR and I can’t wait to read it.

To find out more about Aaron Ritchey….

For more about Author Aaron Ritchey and The Never Prayer, you can visit them both at www.aaronmritchey.com.  And of course, he is on Facebook, as is the book at http://www.facebook.com/TheNeverPrayerAnd his tweet handle– @aaronmritchey.   If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!

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Author Open MIC ~ Welcomes Hildie McQueen +Giveaway

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Today, we have a very special author who at the end of this has a special treat:

ONE FREE COPY OF DESPERATE BETRAYAL. 

I’d like to introduce Hildie McQueen. 

Hildie loves the strange and unusual, pair that with humor and you’ve got an idea of what her writing is like.  Besides writing, her other occupation is as an administrative assistant in support of the Department of Defense.  She enjoys making sure action, intrigue, and sizzling romance add up to an escape that her readers won’t soon forget.  Hildie is a member of Georgia Romance Writers, Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter and Romance Writers of America.

She resides in the beautiful small town Georgia with her super-hero husband Kurt.

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Hello everyone, so glad to be here today to introduce my book series. Thank you for stopping by.

One commenter will receive a free e-copy of Desperate Betrayal, the first in the series!

The Protector Series began with the idea to create a hero, who is different, who is immortal and has some vampire-like characteristics.

I had to come up with the guys that while they are born human, are born predestined to become immortal warriors. At the age of about twenty they grow taller and get bulkier. At the same time their eyesight and hearing become keener. Like vampires, they drop fangs when aggravated and have the ability to erase memories. Once they accept their destiny and go with Julian, their leader, they train in Rome with Gladiators to fight.   

I decided to bring the Protector from varied backgrounds, there is one Viking, a Moor, two Highlanders, a British Lord, a Spartan and their leader is a Gladiator. And of course each of them is drop dead gorgeous.

Lastly, they needed a purpose.  The Protectors spend their nights patrolling the streets of Atlanta, protecting innocents from demons and others out to harm them.

Now to the books!

 Desperate Choices, Novella, the prequel to Desperate Betrayal

When an Immortal demon slayer saves Rachel Andrews from certain death, her life changes forever.  An unbreakable bond with the handsome Protector, drags her into a world she never believed existed and has no desire to be part of.

The actions of one night drastically alter the course of his long existence.  Torn between his feelings for Rachel and his life’s calling, Roderick Cronan comes face to face with the fact that he is losing both.

Desperate Betrayal

When a beautiful woman in a dirty alley approaches Cyn Fraser, he is intrigued by the fact that she can see him for what he is, a demon slayer, and still dares to approach him.

Emma Blake, has to convince Cyn to help rescue her sister from powerful demons, she goes against every instinct and approaches him despite knowing that she is leading them both into territory so wrought with treachery, neither of them may survive. Will they overcome betrayal? And if they do, will it even matter?

Desperate Surrender

Wendy O’Sullivan’s life drastically changes upon discovering she is not human, and is charged with guarding the Key of Peace. To make matters more complicated, she reunites with the Protector she’s dreamed of since the day he rescued her from a demon attack.

Kieran Frasier, hasn’t kissed, much less loved a woman in over three hundred years, his heart firmly encased behind thick walls. The fierce immortal defends innocents from powerful demons, but can he defend himself from diminutive Wendy, who manages to get past all his barricades?

Faced with arranged marriages to others and battling demons that will stop at nothing to capture Wendy, will they be forced to surrender their chance at true love for the greater good?

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 INTERVIEW:

Hi Hildie.  Welcome to part II of the Author Open MIC where I get to throw some questions at you, especially now that you bated us with your oh-so-fabulous and sexy immortal warriors. 

1.     I read in a previous interview that Desperate Betrayal read very much like JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series (which I must say is my favorite).  Do you find inspiration in other authors who have paved the way for more male centric romance novels? 

I am always flattered when people compare my writing to her because she’s my uber-hero! I get inspired when I read great writing, when I laugh out loud or cry because of a specific scene.  Besides JR Ward, I love Gena Showalter, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Pamela Palmer, all of their series based on not only strong males, but also the relationship between the men.

2.     What do you think is the hardest obstacle in writing from a male perspective?  What is the easiest?

I’ve been surrounded by men my entire life, I was in the army for a while, then continue to work with the government, so I feel that I have a good perspective on the male point of view.  Whenever I don’t understand something or need to ask a question, I ask the guys.

3.     I love that your immortal warriors come from different time periods and cultures.  How do you decide what female character will make the best match?

That is a great question, what I usually do is contemplate and try to figure out the type of female that would either be my heroes exact opposite or a mirror image of him, only feminine. Sometimes it’s easy other times, its not so much so.

4.     Okay, you have some serious bragging rights as of late for Desperate Betrayal.  What do readers think?

I have received emails from people I don’t know to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed it and to ask about the sequel.  It’s been amazing that my debut novel has been so warmly received.  I just hope that I can keep them happy with the sequels.

Host interjects:  Now Hildie, you are being modest.  Okay, I’ll brag for you.  Desperate Betrayal was selected as READERS CHOICE at Gravetells in January 2012.  She was up against some stiff competition.  The READERS HAVE SPOKEN – they love her book.  Not to mention all the great reviews on AMAZON and GOODREADS.

5.     Where can readers find out more about you and your books? 

I blog regularly at www.hildiemcqueen.com.  There is also a tab on there for books, which I update regularly.

My Facebook addiction is another way to know what I’m up to, http://www.facebook.com/HildieMcQueen

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GIVEAWAY!!

You must leave a comment for Hildie to be included in the drawing, otherwise we won’t know where to find you 🙂 

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Author Open MIC: Welcomes Cindy Young-Turner

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Hi everyone.  I’m so excited to introduce a fellow CMP author to you today.  I’ve had the great pleasure of reading her novel, and fell in love with her heroine.  Although she is here to guest post, I want to give you the opportunity to get to know her and her book.  This is a MUST READ.  At the end of her post, I’ll be asking Cindy some questions about her novel and what is on the horizon for her characters—so stay tuned.  You won’t be disappointed.

Bio:  Cindy has always been an avid reader and became fascinated by mythology and Arthurian legends at a young age. She quickly decided she enjoyed creating her own worlds and characters and set to work writing her own stories. She won her first writing contest at age twelve, a short story inspired by the style of Edgar Allan Poe. Branching her interests from mythology to classic supernatural tales to medieval history and then to fantasy seemed to be a logical progression.

A native New Englander, Cindy currently lives in the Mid-Atlantic region with her family and each year wishes for more snow. You can visit her at her website at www.cindyyoungturner.com.

So, Cindy.  The mic is yours….

Guest post—A fantasy author finds inspiration in the past

Thanks for having me, Jean! One of the hardest parts about writing fantasy is that I can’t go to a particular location where my novel is set or look it up on the internet to do research. My novel takes place in a world I’ve created. Granted, it’s a medieval-based setting, so some things may seem familiar, but it only exists in my head. The closest I’ve come to experiencing my world is at our local renaissance festival and during a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.

My husband and I took a belated honeymoon to Scotland. It was our first trip out of the country and a dream vacation. I’ve been fascinated by Scotland for a long timethe culture, the history, the music, the beautiful landscape. With only a nine day trip, we had to carefully pick and choose what we wanted to see. We spent two days in London, then took the train to Edinburgh for a couple days and then another train ride to Inverness. None of it disappointed. Edinburgh was an amazing city. We spent a good amount of time on the Royal Mile, which was a bit touristy, but I loved the cobblestone streets, the old buildings, and all the history that had been preserved.

While we were in Edinburgh, we took one of those ghost tours that seem to be all the rage these days. I’d never heard of a ghost tour before (this was a number of years ago), but a friend who had been there highly recommended it. We had a choice between a tour during the daytime that ended in a pub or one at night that ended in a cemetery. Ha, of course we picked the tour ending in a pub. I’m so glad we didn’t do one at night because frankly, I was terrified. Lots of creepy things happened on the old streets of Edinburgh, and lots of terrible punishments were meted out. For example, the infamous body snatchers Burke and Hare killed people and sold their bodies for medical dissection in the 1800s. Burke was hanged, publicly dissected, and souvenirs were made from his skin. His skeleton is displayed in the University of Edinburgh, and we were told it’s set at an angle so his soul would never be at rest. Some of the creepiest stories we heard during the tour were about Mary King’s Close, where supposedly when the plague swept through in the 1600s people were boarded up in their homes and left to die. This is one of the most haunted places in the city and has been featured on some of those “most haunted” shows. Just thinking about it still gives me chills. The tour also took us to the South Bridge Vaults, which had recently been opened up. People lived and worked in these underground passages in the late 18th century. Conditions in the vaults were horrific, and it became a slum and a red light district and as a result also attracted all sorts of criminals. We went through some of the vaults on the tour. Imagine walking through dimly lit tunnels with the guide warning you not to lose the group and oh, don’t worry if you hear heavy footsteps behind you because sometimes people do. Yikes. No one in the group wanted to be a straggler. After that I was ready for the pub and a good stiff drink.

Now this isn’t to say that my novel is full of infamous murderers, cruel punishments, or haunted underground passages. Well, on second thought, some of that does apply. I certainly pictured the narrow, winding cobblestone streets of Edinburgh when I was writing the story. In the town where the primary action of the novel occurs there are a series of tunnels that run beneath the streets. These tunnels play a key role and were inspired by the vaults I went through beneath Edinburgh, although mine don’t have such a sordid history (the crime and prostitution happens above ground instead). And since this is fantasy, the tunnels also have a bit of magic, and it’s a creepy otherworld kind of magic tinged with fear. In my world, danger lurks around every corner, especially the shadowy ones.

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Sydney, a street urchin and pickpocket in the town of Last Hope, has managed to evade the oppressive Guild for years, but there is no escaping fate when she’s sentenced to death for associating with the resistance.

After she’s rescued by a wizard, Sydney is forced to accept that magic-long outlawed throughout the Kingdom of Thanumor-still exists, and the Tuatha, a powerful faery folk, are much more than ancient myth and legend. When the wizard offers a chance to fight the Guild and bring Willem, bastard prince and champion of the Tuatha, to the throne, Sydney embraces the cause as a way to find her own redemption.

But Sydney’s fear of the Guild, distrust of authority, and surprising connection to the Tuatha threaten Willem’s success. Can she untangle the strange threads that entwine her life not only to the fate of the kingdom, but also to Willem himself?

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INTERVIEW WITH CINDY YOUNG-TURNER

1.  Where do you turn to for inspiration?

I love listening to music when I write and picking music that matches the mood of the scene. I listen to a lot of Celtic music and movie soundtracks (especially the Lord of the Rings soundtracks), as well as harder stuff like Godsmack, Evanesence, Black Sabbath, and Nine Inch Nails. And because part of the novel involves people rising up and fighting oppression, I’ve also been inspired by events in history like the Scottish struggle for independence and the French revolution. I guess I like to root for the underdog.

2.  Okay, now a question for my next favorite thing—your heroine, Sydney.  Tell us about her and what motivates her?

I adore Sydney. She’s very flawed and very human. I think to understand her you have to understand where she comes from, that she’s lost the person dearest to her and has had to fend for herself on the streets. The town of Last Hope is not a nice place. She’s done whatever she had to do to survive. At the beginning of the novel, she has a hard time trusting people and carries around a lot of guilt and doubt in herself. But she also has a moral core that her father figure instilled in her, which has remained despite the difficult choices she’s made. During the course of the story she has the opportunity to finally uphold those principles and realizes she really can fight for what she believes in and make a difference. When she meets Willem, the man who is trying to gain the throne and oust the oppressive Guild that has been the source of so much pain for Sydney personally, he gives her hope that change is possible. It’s really a turning point for her. And yeah, there’s some romance there also.

Sydney undergoes a tremendous amount of growth by the end of the book, even though she makes plenty of mistakes along the way. I hope readers can sympathize with her and will be able to understand and be inspired by her struggle to overcome her past and fight for a better future.

3.  In five words, can you describe the hero, Willem.

Determined, confident, inspiring, compassionate, chivalrous

4.  What is the future for Willem and Sydney?

Well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I’m working on the sequel to Thief of Hope now. The adventures continue, and as the stakes get higher, the dangers increase, for both Sydney and Willem. I think the question isn’t whether they want to be together but whether they CAN be. Can a pickpocket/street urchin become a queen? And does she want to be? Can love conquer all? Honestly, I won’t know until I finish writing the book because I’m the kind of person who writes to find out what happens in the story. The jury is still out on this one. My characters often have a way of surprising me, though, so anything is possible.

5.  Where can readers find you?

Website: http://www.cindyyoungturner.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cindy-Young-Turner/206268086074718

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4882750.Cindy_Young_Turner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/AuthorCindyYT

Buy links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Thief-Hope-Cindy-Young-Turner/dp/0982820070/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_3

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thief-of-hope-cindy-young-turner/1031233191?ean=9780982820070&itm=1&usri=thief%2bof%2bhope

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Cindy, thank you so much for taking the MIC today.  I always love to hear how authors obtain inspiration in creating their worlds.  I fell in love with your book, its setting, and characters.  It’s one of those books that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the story with its sights and sounds.  I can’t wait for the sequel. 

Keep writing and happy reading to all!!

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Author Open Mic ~ Welcomes Sean Poindexter

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Host Jean: I want to welcome Author Sean Poindexter to Author Open Mic today.  I’m so excited to have him here, because he’s going to talk about DRAGONS.  Not only is he going to talk about another of my favorite myths, he is going to give us a behind the scenes making of the symbol that graces his cover. Please note the beautiful artwork above, created by Sean’s talented friend, Gennifer Bone. TO SEE MORE, visit her deviant art profile here: http://razielart.deviantart.com/ 

Before I hand Sean the MIC, I’d like to tell you a little about him….

Bio:

Sean graduated from Missouri Southern State University (Joplin, MO) in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a minor in Philosophy.  He received a Master of Science in Justice Studies from Pittsburg State University (Pittsburg, Kansas) in 2005. For three years he performed investigations for the Missouri Department of Health into allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of disabled adults. His literary influences include H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, Robert E. Howard, George R.R. Martin and R.A. Salvatore.  Sean’s background in sociology, criminology, and philosophy are heavy influences on his work, as well as his experience as a social service worker (former) for the State of Missouri.

Sean has been writing for as long as he’s been able to read, and interested in fantasy even before that. His mother used to read him Norse mythology as bedtime stories, and he’s never quite outgrown his fascination with all things mystical and amazing. In addition to reading fantasy and science fiction, he enjoys movies (all kinds) and comic books. Other hobbies include fantasy role-playing games, riffing bad movies with his friends, and collecting firearms. He is also very active on Twitter. He enjoys many kinds of music, but is most fond of harder edged industrial and electronic-fused gothic music. He lives in Joplin with his wife Amanda and their three cats Sif, Orion and Thor.

So now that we know a little about Sean, let me hand over the MIC and let the dragon speak begin….  It’s all yours, Sean.

Sean:  Before I explain why I decided on this symbol, let me make a few things clear. I am NOT a Sumerologist, nor do I claim to be an expert on that (or any) ancient culture. Likewise, I know next to nothing about Cuneiform. I don’t know how to read it, I never took a college level course on it, nor do I know anyone who has. I do have a book about Cuneiform, but I’ve never read it. It just sits on my bookshelf and makes me look smarter. The bulk of my knowledge on the subject, as well as the source of the symbol above, comes from the Internet. And, like many things on the Internet, may be correct or wildly inaccurate. None of this really matters: what does is that the symbol looks cool.

Also, I’m not a graphic artist. It took me like three hours to make that damn thing. Yeah…I’m not kidding. I’m terrible at this stuff. But I tried explaining to my more artistic friends what I wanted but they couldn’t seem to translate my imaginings to paper. I blame myself, really. But it’s okay now, because I have created the symbol. With Fotoflexer.

This symbol is designed from the ancient cuneiform symbol for Tiamat, though only partially. Tiamat is expressed in three characters:   That’s the biggest picture of that I could find anywhere. Again, it may be completely inaccurate, so I don’t want any Cuneiform experts or Sumerologists (all nine of them) sending me hate mail about how I don’t know anything about anything. I KNOW. I’m a fantasy writer. I’m literally making this stuff up as I go.

From the human Cuneiform word for Tiamat, my symbol is the first half of the third symbol and the second half of the first. What does it actually mean? Probably nothing. But it looks cool. And it makes sense that the dragons would write this way.  The idea is that the dragons used a complicated form of language that humans later mimicked to create Cuneiform. As such, any dragon writing found lying about would generally be assumed by archeologists to be Cuneiform, rather than the still-living ancient language of dragons. The wedge-shaped pieces of the symbols are indicative of the way dragons would write: by dragging their claws over things. The wide portion of the edge is called the top, the length is the stem and the tip is called the point. The cross symbol on the right has indentations at the top because the dragon drew this portion of the word with two reversed claw swipe: top down and then left to right. Dragon claws tend to angle in, like eagle talons. The crescent portion is drawn with a series of forward-angled claw motions, so the wedges are filled at their top. Dragons are highly reverent of this symbol, and will generally consider it an insult if a human attempts to draw it and screws it up.

This symbol is used in the book. One dragon uses it, as well as a few others, as a signal to another dragon. The symbol is very important to dragons. The dragons don’t exactly worship Tiamat, but they do see her as the progenitor of their race. They also believe that all dragons stand in judgement of her, before and after their deaths. When fortune favors a dragon, they believe that Tiamat has smiled upon them. When it doesn’t, they believe she has turned her eyes from them in shame. Dragons are well aware that humans have incorporated their progenitor into their ancient faith. Most of them find this amusing, at best. Knowledge of Tiamat’s existence is believed to have passed to human from a prehistoric time in which dragons enslaved humans and, in some cases, forced them to worship them as gods. These are referred to by dragons as the Old Ways. When dragons abandoned the Old Ways and decided to live among humans, many of their influences remained in human culture, including Tiamat. However, it is telling that early humans considered Tiamat a demonic goddess, which is likely due to the adversarial relationship their ancestors had with power-hungry dragons during their domination of the Earth. Tiamat is not “evil” though she isn’t terribly concerned with the affairs of humans and, like most dragons, may seem callous by negligence.

A little something about the dragon language —

Dragon language is complicated and impossible to understand by most other beings. Dragon vocal chords are exceptional organs, capable of producing multiple sounds simultaneously, many of which are imperceptible to the ears of lesser races. To creatures, two dragons conversing sound more like two wild animals roaring, hissing and snarling. However, dragons are also capable of talking in human languages while in dragon form, despite not having humanoid mouths. In these instances, the dragon’s powerful vocal chords replicate the intricacies of human speech. The only difficulty present is the depth by which these vocalizations occur inside the dragon’s mouth and throat. This results in a cavernous reverberation when a dragon speaks a human language in its natural form. Otherwise, they are capable of mimicking almost any voice or sound they’ve heard, but prefer to affect a copy of whatever voice they use while in human form. Conversely, while a dragon in human form is capable of understanding draconic speech, it is not capable of speaking it.

Dragon writing is a combination of pictographic and symbolic letters, highly complicated with different shapes representing specific sound clusters. Likewise, dragon writing is not linear. Dragons construct sentences out of a complicated array of symbols that change meaning depending on their orientation to and relative size against other symbols in the same cluster. The actual size of the whole arrangement doesn’t matter, so long as the symbols are of the same proportion to one another. So, a sentiment expressed in dragon would mean the same thing whether it was drawn on a 5 ft. x 5 ft. square of stone, or etched into the side of a mountain. All that matters is that the correct symbols are in the right place, and to the appropriate scale. Longer thoughts and expressions are similarly sized and spaced, making Dragon language stupidly complicated to understand…unless you’re a dragon. Humans can replicate this, but are far less precise and more likely to screw it up. Computers have made this somewhat easier for humans, as they have powerful processors capable of managing the exacting attention to detail required to successfully communicate in Dragon. However, humans very rarely have anything of interest to say to dragons so it’s a moot point.

Host Jean:  This is so fascinating.  Thank you for sharing.  So, let’s shift gears and focus on the content of your book. 

Dragons have pervaded various cultures for centuries.  Can you tell us a little about your dragons and the mythos your book is centered around?

Sean:  Dragons are creatures of almost godlike power. While they are far from omnipotent, they are still awe-inspiring enough that they’ve left an indelible impression on human culture. I’ve tried to use as many different mythos and beliefs and combine them into a proto-mythos from which human traditions and beliefs would stem. The reference to Tiamat in the title of the book is just one of many connections to beliefs in human antiquity that has survived the thousands of years since dragons stopped interacting with them.

Host Jean:  You mention vampires in your back cover blurb.  Can you paint a picture of the world of paranormal creatures you have created for your book?  What inspired you to mix vampires and dragons?

Sean:  I wanted to create an entire shadow world under the surface, with a veneer similar to the one in which we actually live. The Shadow of Tiamat makes reference to other paranormal/supernatural beings, but they don’t begin to arrive until the next book. The struggles between order and chaos, love and fear, good and evil, light and darkness, beauty and destruction are major themes in my writing; all creatures, including humans, have a part in these struggles. I saw the vampires as a stark contrast to the dragons. Where the dragons are generally solitary, self-sufficient and noble, the vampires are predatory, parasitic and anarchic. Also, I really wanted to write a fight between a dragon and a vampire. I know it isn’t really a very fair matchup but…well, I just wanted to make it happen.

Host Jean:  Garrett is disguised as a human. What challenges did you have transitioning him to his dragon form and back?

Sean:  I decided the best way to handle this would be to just make it happen. The dragons generally only get one human form, though some (like Aoni’a) can take other forms as well. When Garrett changes from a human to a dragon, his clothes are destroyed unless he takes them off first, and are gone when he changes back. The transformation is almost instantaneous, there isn’t a “metamorphosis” like with other shapeshifters. The best way I can describe it is that it isn’t as much a biological transformation as it is molecular. Dragons are living conduits for elemental powers, and they change from human to dragon form by manipulating their own atomic structure. They don’t really understand how this works, they just know it does. There isn’t anything in human science that can explain it. Some writers of fantasy take the view that sorcery, magic and the supernatural are really just science that humans haven’t discovered yet; like showing gunpowder to a caveman. I don’t use that method. The supernatural is wholly different and disconnected from physics and the “natural” order of the universe. Things like thermodynamics, the conservation of mass etc. don’t apply.

Host Jean:  Tells us a little about Garrett and Meg.

Sean:  Garrett and Meg are meant to be reluctant representatives of their respective worlds. Meg is the natural world that we all know; Garrett brings with him a world of unknowable power and ancient secrets. Their relationship isn’t only significant to them personally, but shows how the two worlds that have been kept separate for so long will begin to interweave. As Garrett’s world spills into Meg’s life, so too does her world invade Garrett’s. As a result, both characters undergo great changes, awakening parts of themselves that they never knew existed.

When I created Meg, I didn’t want to use the old model of the “perfect” woman. Meg isn’t perfect. She is intelligent and independent, but has some issues. On the other hand, she isn’t deeply flawed or unbalanced. She’s a remarkable person, but her exceptional nature isn’t immediately apparent. She is someone I wanted the readers to want to get to know, rather than just reading a description of her and thinking “ah, she’s one of those characters.”

Garrett, on the other hand, is immediately noticeable. Dragons are vain creatures, though they tend to carry it well. As in, true vanity doesn’t need constant reminders of how great it is. Because of this, dragons tend to be exceedingly beautiful in their human forms, but most of the time they aren’t fully aware of how beautiful they really are. Garrett is even less aware of it than most dragons because he’s not very social. He admires humans, though until he meets Meg he hasn’t really had any desire to interact with them personally.

It was an interesting dynamic, I think, that brought Meg and Garrett together. I had to really think about what it would take to make two people with these personalities and traits attracted to one another. There would have to be something exceptional about the other that others would have missed or ignored. Meg and Garrett needed to see in the other person something they always needed but had never missed or looked for. It’s a bit of a mystery, really. One that isn’t completely resolved in the first novel.

Host Jean:  What comes next in the The Dragon’s Blood Chronicles?

Sean:  Crescent Moon Press has offered (and I have accepted) a contract for the second book in the series, The Will of the Darkest One. I have also signed a contract with them for the first book in a “spin-off” series focused around one of the supporting characters from The Shadow of Tiamat. This series is darker, more horror/mystery than fantasy, though fantasy elements are present. Garrett even makes an appearance briefly.

Host Jean:  Do you have anything you want to share with readers?  (Excerpts, trailers, hero/heroine bios)

Social media Links/webpage

Official Webpagehttp://www.seanpoindexter.com/
Blog: King of the Dragonshttp://seanpoindexter.blogspot.com/
Facebookhttp://on.fb.me/seanpfanpage
Twitterhttp://twitter.com/seanpoindexter
Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/sean_poindexter
Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006J12ZRA

Where to get the book –

Paperback from Amazon: http://amzn.to/tiamat-ppb
Paperback from B&N: http://bit.ly/voMy5Z
Kindle from Amazon: http://amzn.to/tiamat-kindle
Nook from B&N: http://bit.ly/tiamat-nook
Other ebook formats: http://bit.ly/utxfuB
Paperback from Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/rMQ7fi

Paperback from Powell’s Books : http://bit.ly/uRJbpK
Paperback/ebook from Indiebound: http://bit.ly/vwKpcP

Review links

“The author not only gave us strong and resourceful characters that were both smart and funny, but the storyline as well ebbed and flowed to keep the reader involved and entangled throughout…and its twist ending left me wanting the next installment right away!” “4 1/2 Tombstones out of 5!” — Bitten By Books Reviews

“I walked into this book expecting a romance. I soon realized that this is a gritty, smart fantasy written by a no-holds barred author. If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s downright fiery.” 5 stars – Goodreads Author and Reviewer Agnes Jayne, author of The Problem with Power

“Fantastic!!! I was completely blown away.Intense imagery and a compelling plot has put this high on my must read list. I can’t wait to see what Sean Poindexter comes up with next. Do yourself a favor and buy this book today!!!” 5 stars — Goodreads Author and Reviewer Brian D Anderson, author of The Godling Chronicles: The Sword of Truth.

“The Shadow of Tiamat is one of the most original pieces of work I have read in awhile.With the way most books are now, I expected a generic, already been done, revamped story of dragons. Nope, this book provides a truly one of a kind take on these beings. The only thing better than the characters in this story is the action that takes place. I found it very difficult to pick a favorite part in this story. I’m waiting in anticipation for the next one. Come on Book 2!!!! I’m so excited!!!” 5 stars — Amazon Reviewer stardustgalaxy

Those are some fabulous reviews! 

I can’t wait to read this book, as it will be my first dragon book.

Thank you, Sean for spending the day with us here at Wicked Romance’s

AUTHOR OPEN MIC.

If anyone is interested in TAKING the MIC, just send me an email.

murray . jeanm @ gmail . com

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Author Open Mic ~ Welcomes Rachel Firasek to the Mic

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Host Jean:  Okay, before I hand the mic over to Rachel let me tell you a little bit about her.  I ran into Rachel at the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal RWA chapter loop.  We pitched together during an online pitch session and became fellow Crescent Moon Press authors.  You may have heard of Piper’s Fury and if you haven’t you probably will down the road. The book is great. 

Well, she didn’t let sleeping dogs lie, because she has charged full steam ahead and released another three book series, The Curse of the Phoenix from Entangled Publishing (which has amazing covers, by the way).  You can find her collection of books on her Amazon Author Page.  In addition, Rachel owns several blogs, Romance Cafe & Sassy Street Sirens, and has a web presence out there to rival any of  the best selling authors.  I get tired just watching her.  I don’t know how she does it all.   Please note, she hasn’t even hit her anniversary date for Piper’s Fury.  We’re talking less than a year.  I wanted to preface her post to let you know this girl knows what she is talking about when it comes to time management.   

Bio:

Rachel Firasek grew up in the south and despite the gentle pace, she harassed life at full steam. Her curiosity about mythology, human nature, and the chemical imbalance we call love led her to writing. Her stories began with macabre war poems and shifted to enchanted fairytales, before she settled on a blending of the two.

Today you’ll find her tucked on a small parcel of land, surrounded by bleating sheep and barking dogs, with her husband and children. She entertains them all with her wacky sense of humor or animated reenactments of bad 80’s dance moves.

She’s intrigued by anything unexplained and seeks the answers to this crazy thing we call life. You can find her where the heart twists the soul and lights the shadows… or at www.rachelfirasek.com .

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/RachelFirasek

FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Firasek/175543929127527

Please stay tune, as Rachel has answered some questions about her upcoming release, The Last Beginning (Feb2012)

Rachel. I pass you the mic. 

Rachel:  So, when Jean so sweetly asked me to come on here, I worried over what I’d blog about. Hmmm….when I was on my last two blog tours I ran out of things to say and then it came to me. Write about what you know really well. Well, I know how to time manage—sort of. 🙂

I’m going to share with you how I made it through simultaneous drafts/revisions/edits/and blog tours without losing my sanity. Whew. Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it—or even if I did.

If you find yourself in a similar position, no matter what you’re working on in your life, here are the steps to stay sane.

  1.  Prioritize every aspect of your life—even the kids and hubby. Seriously, there were days when I’d look at my kids and ask, “Is this something we have to do/handle/discuss today?” They learned really fast that they had to give me a rating of importance. And, it taught them how to handle some of their own problems without running to me for everything. My kids are older, so this worked for them.
  2.  Let your extended family/friends/random strangers that you play games with on FB know that you’re not intentionally ignoring them, but you’re super busy and when things settle you’ll be back in touch. It’s very important that you do this when you see the tornado heading your way and not while you’re in the midst of the wind. I did it backwards and what ends up happening is you alienate yourself because you’ve forgotten to take a moment and explain your situation.
  3.  Learn your limits. I had to stumble through this one too. I thought I could hang all nighters for my deadlines and still go in to the day job. Uh, no, I’m not 20 anymore. So, I had to learn to let others know when I’m sinking. It’s a hard thing to do, but it’s better to reach out and let your editor/boss/etc…know when you aren’t coping than it is to totally fail. Many times they can help you find solutions.
  4.  Time manage. This is another one that I just totally failed at. See the trend here? Learn that yes, social media is important, but not if you don’t finish your X on time. So, make the few moments you tweet/post/blog more impactful. And, instead of talking to 25 people…limit yourself to 5 for the day. When you hit your quota, say farewell and move along. Or use these as a reward for hitting a goal.
  5.  As far as the work….well, the truth is…if you’re going to work on multiple projects at one time with a deadline for each, you will have no life. None. Be ready for it. J If you go in expecting to never see the mall until you’re finish, that Starbucks was only a dream, and your bestie will only be allowed a two minute phone convo on a commute, then you’ll be ready for anything. Expectations can make a world of difference in this life.

Jean, sweetie, I hope this helps. I know it’s probably not what you were looking for, but looking back at this year, it’s all a blur of sweat and tears. J But, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything in the world. Best wishes and thank you so much for having me on.

Host Jean:  Rachel thank you so much.  I admire your ability to accomplish so much and now you have shared that secret with readers and fellow authors.  So, Rachel isn’t out of the hot seat yet. Let’s talk about your upcoming release, The Last Beginning.

Though she’s always hated being a phoenix, Sadie has to admit immortality has its advantages. She’s seen and done more in the last 150 years than she’d ever dreamed of, but she can’t get past the fact that Osiris has done nothing but manipulate her and her fellow phoenixes.

Or that, when her last incarnation as a phoenix comes to a fiery end, the fire slowly begins to consume her body.

Sun god Osiris is ashamed of his role as ruler of the Underworld, but he unless he can figure out how to save Sadie, that’s exactly where she’s going to end up. Permanently. Terrified he’s going to lose her, he takes her on a hunt for The Book of the Dead, which is the only way he knows he can save her—even if it means she’ll hate him forever.

What challenges are there when writing a novella versus a novel?  How do you overcome these challenges?

Rachel:  Oh, good question. Well, I think the biggest challenge is getting the character right in half the space and not having the reader feel cheated. The way I do this, is to keep the plot very simple. I keep my leads together as much as possible and I make sure that the story always comes full circle. Shhhh…don’t spread my secret.

Host Jean:  Okay, you’ve hit one of my favorite areas of Egyptian Mythology.  I love this theme of phoenixes. Tell us a little about the myth of the phoenix, as it relates to your book.

Rachel:  Oh, geez…share my research. I took the phoenix mythology from a Tarot flip, then did my research backwards. : P Osiris was a sun god, the phoenix was made of fire. “The Bennu was also considered a manifestation of the resurrected Osiris and the bird was often shown perched in his sacred willow tree.” http://www.egyptianmyths.net/phoenix.htm

This single line is really what sparked my interest and fantasizing about the bird. Check out the site and if you’ve read any of the books, you’ll truly know how weird I am and how far I can stray from an idea. 🙂

Host Jean:  Tell us a little about your heroine, Sadie… Who was she before she became a phoenix? How does that affect her as an immortal and how she sees the world today?

Ah, Sadie, my little American. Sadie is from the 1850’s originally and she did some not so nice things to make her way out to California. She’s a devout believer in the Man upstairs and struggles with her perceived sins throughout the book. She’s worried she’ll burn in Hell, even after Osiris promises that she won’t. These two make me smile.

Host Jean:  What phoenix is next?

This is the end of the line for my Phoenixes. I’m going to miss these ladies and maybe Osiris most of all. I hope you all enjoy the stories.

The Last Rising Book Trailer

“Firasek’s heroine will seize your heart and enchant your soul.”
~ Caridad Piñeiro, NYT and USA TODAY Bestselling author of the Sin Hunters series

And has been awarded a Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

Piper’s Fury earned 4 stars from RT, 5 Stars from Bitten By Book, The Romance Reviews and many others. Piper’s Fury is an Eppie Finalist.

Let’s open the MIC to the audience.  Throw some questions out there for Rachel!!  What are your time management strategies??  What has worked?  What has failed?

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Filed under Author Open Mic, Craft, Guest Author

Have you ever said to yourself or others, “I don’t have enough time to write or promote my book.”

Wicked Romance welcomes Author Rachel Firasek to Author Open Mic tomorrow, Monday- 23 January. 

Ms. Firasek has authored five books in the last year, as well as launching, promoting, and managing ownership of two blogs.

She has found the time and wants to share her experience with you.  Don’t miss it!!

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Filed under Author Open Mic, Events, Guest Author

Paranormal Reads ~ Key to the Cursed Series: Teasers, Interview, and All Around Fun

Hey, everyone.  The gracious folks over at Paranormal Reads are revealing some Soul Reborn’s secrets and teasers.  Find out more about the Key to the Cursed series here.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paranormal-Romance-Writers-Readers-and-the-People-Who-Love-It/121404377910848?ref=ts#!/pages/Paranormal-Reads/210602165622398

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Filed under Events, Key to the Cursed, PROMO, Soul Reborn