Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blog Tour: The Lure of Fools by Jason King

“A deep and intriguing magic brings a fresh feel to fantasy in this visually stunning journey.  Jason King weaves powerful stories that grip the reader to the last word with a perfect blend of amazement, fear, love, and destiny.  Anybody drawn to dangerous adventure won’t be able to resist The Lure of Fools.  It’s Lloyd Alexander for a new millennium.”  – James Wymore, author of Theocracide.

Need I say more? I mean, really. And no, I'm not being biased because James Wymore is amazing and you should all be jealous that he mentored me for the Haunted Writing Clinic and Contest last year.

Okay, well, maybe I am a little. But seriously! Read the blurb for yourself and you'll be hopping over to Goodreads to add it to your TBR list as well! (Tip: You can also purchase it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.) You can follow Jason King on Twitter, Facebook, and visit out his website for more on his other novels and writerly exploits.

“Adventure is the lure of fools, and excitement glamour to the gullible. The siren song of the world is as music to the wanderer’s feet, but that dance leads only to the soul-less grave.”

So Jekaran’s uncle has warned him. But that doesn’t stop him from leaping at the exhilarating chance to single-handedly rescue a beautiful woman from a gang of lecherous thieves.

But the bored farm boy quickly finds that he is no match for the group of angry street thugs, and only escapes death by bonding a magical sword that grants him the strength and skill of a master swordsman. Unfortunately, a peasant wielding such magic is forbidden and punishable by death.

Thus Jekaran finds himself a fugitive with his fate tied to that of the exotic and mysterious, Kairah; a fey woman who must deliver a dire warning to the king that, if heeded, could prevent the very extinction of humanity.

Jason King wishes he was raised on a desert planet by his aunt and uncle and watched over by a mysterious old recluse, but his life is much duller than that. He supposes that’s why he started making up stories. Born in Salt Lake City Utah, Jason grew up on a steady diet of anime, science fiction, Dungeons and Dragons, JRPG’s, and chocolate cake donuts. He pretended not to be a nerd just long enough to get married and start a family. And although dismayed by the revelation that Jason was a geek, his wife stuck with him and they are now the proud parents of four beautiful children. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in I.T. Management and is currently the Internet Marketing Manager for a local bookstore chain, but he is determined to one day quit his “9 to 5” and write full-time. Jason has two indie books; “Valcoria Children of the Crystal Star” and “Thomas Destiny,” but “The Lure of Fools” is his first published novel.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Heirs of War Cover Reveal!

It seemed appropriate that I should reveal the cover for my book by revealing my reaction to seeing the very real and very large version of it I ordered from VistaPrint. There are two reasons my eyes are so huge: 1) The cover is freaking amazing and I get giddy every time I look at it, and 2) I didn't realize just how large a "large" poster was from VistaPrint and failed to look at the measurements. This is one of the posters I will be giving away for the Pre-Release Giveaway ending September 14th. Don't forget to enter since there is more than one prize pack to win! And now, the actual cover accompanied by the final blurb. Big thanks to everyone who has been posting it today!

Seventeen-year-old Zelene doesn't believe in magic or prophecies. When she's told she is part of the prophecy foretelling five powerful girls bringing peace to the war-torn worlds, she scoffs. The idea of other dimensions layered on top of the world she lives in is almost as ludicrous as the idea that she might be able to save them. After she is attacked by magic-wielding assassins, she finds she can't argue with reality.

As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.

Zelene views them all with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no, and can think of a place or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to go against an army of magic-wielding rebels when her own ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her. But can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

Add it on Goodreads and be sure to like my Facebook page for updates. September 13th is right around the corner, and I cannot wait to share this book with you all!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest Post: Eliza Tilton Talks Inspiration for Her Book Broken Forest

The question of "What inspired you?" can be one of the toughest you can ask an author or artist of any kind. Putting to words what it is about a certain image or song or event that acted as a muse for a particular scene (or painting, song, etc) can be difficult when so much of it happens behind the artist's eyelids. Well, today Eliza Tilton has accepted the challenging question of inspiration. Armed with imagery and excerpts of her own, Eliza will explain to us just what caused the spark of certain ideas from her novel Broken Forest to ignite.

Book Blurb:
Hopeless he'll never be more than the boy who didn't save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables.
And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.
His shape-shifting brethren feed off the auras of humans, and Jeslyn's golden hue is exactly what Lucino needs to increase his power. The longer it takes Avikar to reach her, the more entranced she becomes with Lucino's world, and the harder it will be for Avikar to set her free.
He failed his family once. He won't fail again.

So many things inspired Broken Forest, but there are a few specifics that sparked the creative setting.
About eight years ago, my husband went to Spain with his art class. When his camera broke, he decided to paint everything he saw in watercolor. When I saw one of his pieces, I fell in love. Unfortunately, we don’t have one handy, but here’s where HIS inspiration came from.
This is Casa Batllo in Barcelona Spain, designed by the insanely talented Gaudi. I loved the architecture. It reminded me of gingerbread houses and I knew I had to use it for a setting in the book. Here’s an excerpt:
Derrick and I headed towards the crowded market. The air smelled of fresh bread, reminding me of home. Houses made of green and orange mosaics with curved archways and round windows loomed on each side of the cobblestone street. Roofs resembling dragon scales created a unique architecture.
While we walked, I rolled one of my marbles in my hand. I didn’t trust anyone and this place seemed so otherworldly. Every townsfolk seemed either strong and tall, or lithe and beautiful. Women dressed in bright colors, filled the street. I’d never seen so much color in one place. I caught the sight of a girl with mesmerizing green eyes. Derrick said something, but I was locked in her hypnotic gaze and voluptuous chest.

I’ve always loved masquerades. There’s something mysterious and exciting about wearing masks and dressing in beautiful gowns. If you’ve ever seen the movie Labyrinth (if not, you really should), you might recognize this scene. The masquerade ball in Broken Forest was my favorite scene to write. Here’s an excerpt:
In my silver shoes, I stepped on the sparkling marble and walked through the parted guests. At the end of the line, I saw Lucino. My heart fluttered. His pants and shirt were the color of midnight, and a long scarlet cape draped his back. He wore an ivory mask that covered almost every part of his face, except his mouth, eyes and left cheek. His sapphire eyes blazed from the two holes. No man could ever look as regal, as daring.

Avikar’s horse is named Brushfire. This picture is exactly how I imagined her. I’ll let the excerpt tell the rest.
The wagons surrounded the site in a semi-circle. Sweat pooled in my palms. I had to take out the guards closest to that entrance. If I failed, so did the mission.
Get a grip.
I clenched the arrow in my right hand. Brushfire shifted nervously, sensing my fear. I rubbed her neck. I felt safer with her. She’d been with me since Jimri’s death. At night when the nightmares taunted me, I’d sneak out, riding until dawn forced us home. I’d rescued her from the burning woods, she’d rescued me from despair—Today, I prayed both of us would make it out alive.

Eliza Tilton is the author of the YA Fantasy, Broken Forest, published by Curiosity Quills Press. You can find her blogging about video games and writing on her blog and doing bi-weekly posts on author media over at YAStands.

She graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull. Twitter / Tumblr / Website  / Pinterest / Facebook

Monday, August 26, 2013

Blog Tour: Excerpt from Reaper by LS Murphy

Time for another addition to your To-Be-Read lists! Reaper by L.S. Murphy is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. As a special treat, I've also got an excerpt below!

There's no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.

She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.

It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.

Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.

Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.

Maybe ... just maybe ... that’s okay.

It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.

L.S. Murphy lives in the Greater St. Louis area where she watches Cardinals baseball, reads every book she can find, and weaves tales for teens and adults. When not doing all of the above, she tends to The Bean (aka her daughter), her husband and a menagerie of pets. “A Reason to Stay”, a contemporary romance novella, is available as of November 2, 2012. Reaper is her debut young adult novel and will be released on January 7th, 2013.

She is a co-rep for the Southern Illinois region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

How Patton Oswalt's Defense of Ben Affleck Applies to a Self-Published Writer

Thought I would share part of Patton Oswalt's status today concerning Ben Affleck as Batman, but not because of the whole Ben as Batman bru-ha-ha. I'm sharing this because I think it applies to so many of us, and I think we could learn a thing or two from what Patton Oswalt is saying about Ben Affleck. I know it applies to me, as a writer. And one self-publishing, especially. I'll explain after.

"Plus, everyone seems to forget that he had the world dropped in his lap when he was YOUNG. And, judging by how other suddenly-famous youngsters do in the same situation, he fared pretty well. Even when it went wrong, he seemed to keep a self-deprecating, long-view philosophy about the burning freak carousel he'd found himself on.

And then what happened? I mean, he'd fallen from a HEIGHT. You know what happens to 95% of people who weather a descent that steep? They come apart, fray at all of their sanity nodes, and give up.

But then there's the 5% who embrace crushing defeat and see it for the gift it is. And here's the gift: when you fail, and fail UTTERLY, you wake up the next morning and see that the world didn't end. And then the fear of failure is gone. And you're free. You're free to proceed on your own terms and pace -- if you have the ego that permits you to.

Ben brushed himself off, realized he'd kept his eyes open on the movies he'd done, and started directing. And he's become a damn good one.

Starting out in the publishing world, we are riding high after high. We finished a novel! We let people read our novel! People liked our novel! We're going to publish our novel! (Or someone wants to publish it for you--which can be a much bigger high than just doing it yourself.) We're scheduling our blog tours! We're getting likes on our Facebook pages! People are adding our books to their Goodreads lists!

From http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/feels

Then what happens? We hit "publish" and hopefully don't hear crickets. But chances are we won't be overnight success stories. The truth of gaining any footing as a published writer is that it takes time and perseverance. It takes getting one star reviews and watching sales dwindle. It takes more than one book, most people say. In a lot of ways, our first books can feel like failures, unless we have realistic expectations. And even then, can we fight against the hope those expectations will be surpassed by a long shot? I'm not sure I can, no matter how many times I say I'll be happy if I just sell ten copies. 

So what do we do when we feel like we've failed? Like Patton Oswalt says: We wake up the next morning, realize the world hasn't ended, and move forward with a since of freedom. We are artists. We are here to express ourselves. Sales should come second to that, and it's important to keep that in mind as we venture forth to our next books and keep riding the roller coaster of the literary world, embracing every up and down along the way. And maybe even squealing like the little Geico pig all the way to our next release.

From astridonacid's tumblr

Blog Tour: Catalyst by Jennifer Snyder

Can I just say that I love this cover? It is gorgeous. And the blurb is really good, too. Definitely on my TBR list! See for yourself!

Sometimes who we really are lies buried just beneath the surface…

After learning she’s inherited a house in the beachside town of Soul Harbor, Georgia, Addison Harmon and her best friend decided to take a much needed vacation before the pressures of life after high school suffocate them too heavily.

But what Addison finds isn’t a chance to recoup from a bad break up and hang out with her best friend while she decides what she wants to do with her future. What she finds is Kace Sullivan—a sexy guy she can’t seem to get enough of—someone who with one touch reveals a seductive world full of magick and secrets Addison isn’t sure she’s ready to be a part of.

(New Adult/Mature Young Adult: Contains sexual situations, mild language, and underage drinking.)

Purchase links:

Jennifer Snyder lives in North Carolina where she spends most of her time writing new adult and young adult fiction, reading, and struggling to stay on top of housework. She is a tea lover with an obsession for Post-it notes and smooth writing pens. Jennifer lives with her husband and two children, who endure listening to songs that spur inspiration on repeat and tolerate her love for all paranormal, teenage-targeted TV shows.

Find Jennifer Snyder on:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cover Reveal: The Second Shadow by Elizabeth Arroyo

Cover reveal! I always wish I had some kind of graphic for drawing back a curtain (accompanied by some really exciting music) for these. But I don't, so you'll just have to imagine it alongside me!

TA-DA! And now for more on the book:

(Book 2 of The Second Sign series)
Dark YA Paranormal Romance
Available September 5, 2013
Sapphire Star Publishing

Jake thought being demon meant a shredded humanity, stripped of all human emotion. Chaos and self-preservation dominates a demon’s instincts. But Jake feels every ounce of pain and despair around him.
And it’s driving him deeper into Hell.
Gabby’s choice to save him last summer left a fissure in Hell’s gate that released a malevolent evil. When Jake’s given a mission by the demons to shadow a human girl who may know the whereabouts of an ethereal weapon, he doesn’t expect to see Gabby. But Fate has her own agenda.
When Jake and Gabby are thrown together on a camping trip with a group of delinquent teens, Jake begins to grapple with the haunting choices he made in the past.  When the evil finds them, the group begins to battle for their lives, alliances are made, and truths revealed.
As the evil begins to influence Jake, he questions his link to the demons, his purpose, and his love for Gabby.
But the answers to those questions are only found in Hell. And it may cost him his soul.
You can find the first book, The Second Sign, on Goodreads. The Second Shadow will be released September 5th, 2013!

Elizabeth has worked in the community for the bulk of her professional career. She enjoys quiet moments, action flicks, and dancing with her four-year-old.  

You can find more information about Elizabeth at http://www.elizabetharroyo.com.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cover Reveal: Slick as Ides by Chanse Lowell

The release for Chanse Lowell's Slick as Ides is just around the corner. If you like New Adult Romance, you might want to add this to your To-Read list on Goodreads.

What happens when a germophobe, elusive computer hacking genius has to stop to fuel up her car and it’s stolen right from under her nose by a handsome vagrant? Revenge of course. 

Only he’s no vagrant... 

He’s a computer hacking genius, too, and her competition. Curses along with inhibitions—fly out the window and through the phone when he calls repeatedly to harasses her. Who will win the upper-hand, if there is such a thing, between these two stubborn, obnoxious people?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blog Tour: Wail of the Banshees by Robert Poulin

Remember that awesome guy I interviewed last week? The one who struck an inspirational chord in your writerly lives? Well, today I am spotlighting Robert Poulin's book, Wail of the Banshees, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo. You should definitely check it out. But until you do, you can check out the first three chapters below!

My name is Veronika Kane and dying, dying was just the beginning.

How was I supposed to know that getting smashed on my 21st birthday would lead me to becoming the 9th victim of a serial killer that’s been stalking Philadelphia’s streets for months? Now I’m a ghost and unlife is pretty scary. Reapers, wraiths, ghouls, gargoyles: all of the monsters that I thought were storybook characters are real! On top of it all, the powers that be in the ghost world want to enslave me and use me in their own diabolical plot to manipulate the people of the living world. Too bad I didn’t turn out to be the kind of ghost they wanted me to be, and I’m not about to let them turn me into one of their puppets. These ghosts are responsible for my murder and the murders of eight other women.

A rebellion is coming, and the ghosts that run this place are about to find out just how big a mistake they made when they had me killed.

My name is Veronika Kane and being murdered isn't the end of my story.

Wail of the Banshees is an Urban Fantasy Novel and the first book in the exciting Ghost Wars saga which features paranormal horror and action set in living Philadelphia and the ghostly world of Limbo.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Importance of Genuine Online Friends in a Writerly World

I'm reading Kristen Lamb's book Rise of the Machines: Authors in a Digital Age, and something I just read really resonated with me.

"When we make friends online, we need to be authentic and we need to set aside our agendas. We must make friends because we value people, not because we want to get something out of the relationships."

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately as I prepare for my book release. Why? Because now is the time when you contact your online friends and ask them to take part in your blog tour or cover reveal, or just help you spread the word in general.

Image from cheezburger.com (It's a cute cat, where else?)

But when I was planning my blog tour, I left a lot of my online friends off that list. I went through The Blog Tour Exchange to get a list of potential hosts and mentioned it on Facebook, but I didn't actively seek out any of the connections I've made over the past year. Why? Because I value those connections too highly and I don't want to ever feel like I am abusing it.

I'm highly grateful for the online friends I've made in the writing community. Without people like Stephanie and Jessica, who willingly beat my MS to a pulp in order to make it better (and I like to think they succeeded), or people like Krystal and James who mentored my newbie self, my book wouldn't be ready to be published. Without my critiquing group and my friends over at There & Draft again, I wouldn't have a clue what I was doing and I'd probably be insane, having no one to talk to about all this writerly stuff. Instead, I have people like Priya, who barely knew me and yet willingly talked to me on the phone for an hour, sorting through my jumbled questions about self-publishing.

Heirs of War Pre-Release Giveaway

Less than four more weeks until Heirs of War is officially released! To celebrate, I'm going to be posting one teaser each week leading up to the release, September 13. Oh, and I'm starting a giveaway that won't finish until September 14! Who doesn't like free stuff, right?

What can you win?
  • One copy of Heirs of War in the format of your choice (print or ebook: Kindle, B&N, or PDF)*
  • One large Heirs of War poster (24x36in)
  • One $25 Amazon giftcard
  • One character named after you in the next book
*If you would like an autographed copy, let me know. For those choosing e-books, a large postcard with the cover image can be signed and sent as well. 
How can you win? Easy. In fact, so easy you can earn more chances to win. Tweet about the giveaway, follow me on Twitter, like my Facebook page, or follow There&Draft Again on Twitter to earn more entries. Just follow the directions with Rafflecopter below.

And about that teaser image...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blog Tour: Excerpt from Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux

Another day, another tour! I love excerpts. I really do. It's like getting a preview of a new item on the menu at your favorite restaurant (oh, how I wish they would do that where I live!). Today I am featuring Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux. I am a sucker for ice skating ("Toe pick!"), so I am really looking forward to this one! Jennifer's bio is below, or you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. You can pick up the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Genre: NA contemporary romance

Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily's dreams of gold.


The wind picked up, rustling the trees and sending my empty cup skittering over the table. Sergei snatched it and noticed the time on his watch.
“Oh, wow, it’s two thirty. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stay this late.”
“No worries. I can sleep till noon tomorrow.”
He rose from his chair, stretching his arms. “Do you think they all killed each other downstairs?”
“My guess is they played so hard they passed out at some point. That’s been known to happen.”
I got up and smoothed my skirt. I’d kicked off my sandals hours ago, and the weathered wood of the patio was cool under my bare feet.
Sergei took a step toward me. “Thanks again for the great meal. And the even better company.”
“You’re very welcome. I’m so glad you came.”
I stood on tippy-toes to give him a quick hug, but Sergei’s strong arms held me against him, enveloping my small frame. His body exuded warmth. I closed my eyes and breathed in the woody scent of his cologne. We’d shared plenty of hugs at competitions, but this felt so different, like we belonged nowhere else but in this embrace.
After what seemed like both an eternity and a split second, Sergei pulled away, his hands brushing down my back. He glanced downward and gestured to the door.
“I can let myself out.”
My head bobbed weakly. “Okay. I’ll see you Monday.”
“See you.” He held my gaze a moment longer than necessary. Then he was gone.
I stood paralyzed, listening to the blood pulse in my ears. My heart beat so fast I thought it might pound out of my chest. I couldn’t have imagined the electricity I’d felt in Sergei’s arms. It was too real. And I had no idea how I could ever forget it.

Bio: Jennifer Comeaux earned a Master of Accounting from Tulane University and is a Certified Public

Accountant in south Louisiana. While working in the corporate world, she sought a creative outlet and decided to put on paper a story that had played in her head for years. That story became Life on the Edge, her first published novel.

When not working or writing, she is an avid follower of the sport of figure skating, traveling to competitions around the country. Those experiences allow her to see another side of the sport and serve as an inspiration for her writing.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: Coldness of Marek by Rachel O'Laughlin

Coldness of Marek (Serengard, #1)Coldness of Marek by Rachel O'Laughlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't felt this immersed in the world of a book in a long time. Rachel O'Laughlin's attention to detail is amazing. She doesn't spend pages upon pages describing the world to you, but does an excellent job of letting you see it all through each character's eyes. The changes in POV were fluid, the overall voice never faltering, but still giving you a feel for the differences in the characters and their views. There were times I would come back from a reading break and forget that the story wasn't written in first person because of how strong of a feel I had for the characters, particularly Trzl.

The story has a great build, right from the action at the beginning. The intensity never seems to let up as you piece together what happened in the 10 years since Trzl and Mikel first met. I love the changes you can see in Trzl from that stubborn and somewhat naive rebel using her feminine wiles to aid the cause she so believed in, to the protective mother she is today, willing to anything and everything to keep her child safe.

Reading the fight scenes felt like watching a dance. They were easy to follow, but not mechanical in any way. Some writers can get a little too caught up in the action, making the fights too busy. But Rachel did an excellent job writing descriptions that might cause you to wince, but not scratch your head in confusion.

The romantic undertones were very well written and distinguished from the usual cliches you might find in fantasy novels. Trzl is not a damsel in distress by any stretch of the imagination, and Mikel is very much so the reluctant hero. The conflict between these two somehow manages to play a minor and major role in the overall story. It is a card that is never over-played by Rachel, which made the story all the more enjoyable. There might not be any actual hope for these two to get together with everything that has happened, but watching them fight against their own hearts is very compelling.

I was also very pleased with how Malcolm was written. He's a brave young boy instead of one hiding behind his mother's skirts. I loved how tough and intelligent he is. He picked up on a lot more than the adults gave him credit for, with the exception of perhaps Marek. The minor characters were all very well distinguished from one another, with their own sets of goals and problems. The twist with Tev really caught me offguard, which was great.

There isn't a dull moment in this book. Every chapter, every scene--something is always happening. I really can't sing enough praises for this book. I can't wait to see what happens with the sequel!

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: Gateway to Reality by Becca J Campbell

Gateway to RealityGateway to Reality by Becca J. Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was such a fascinating concept, and so brilliantly told. Becca J Campbell is more than an author, she is an artist. She painted the worlds so clearly, the images so vivid and real. I didn't quite connect with Wes or Emily, but I think that just boils down to personalities. The characters were still very well written and their story was still very engaging.

Spoilers ahead!

I love how Wes is spending the entire story discovering so much about himself and truly growing. You can see the evolution of his character clearly and consistently. Being faced with the choice to live in the LV and pursue things with the Emily he has a history with (in a world full of personal connections, where his family actually exists), and the choice of accepting this illogical world to pursue a life--and Emily--there was very well played out. He didn't spend too much time being angsty over the decision or too much time in denial, which I definitely appreciate in an alternate universe story. I kept waiting for him to wake up and discover the Existence was the dream and to have all his problems figured out through this crazy dream, and it was really refreshing that this didn't happen.

Sometimes the most illogical part about us can be our hearts, and I was glad to see Wes follow his.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Author Interview: Robert Poulin, Author of Wail of the Banshees

Reading Robert Poulin's biography is just as interesting as reading the blurb for his new book, Wail of the Banshees. Which is why I am happy to say I had the chance to interview him for his blog tour.  Don't forget to check out his debut novel, Wail of the Banshees, available Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. You can follow Robert on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter, or you can check out his website here. It was an absolute honor to interview Robert. Read on as we talk about his first novel, what's coming up, what it is like to be a legally blind writer, and his work with North Country Center for Independence, a non-profit group dedicated to enhancing independent lifestyles for people with disabilities.

Mara Valderran: You've said that you are a big fan of science fiction and fantasy, having been won over by The Hobbit as a child. When did you first start writing for the genre?
Robert Poulin: I dabbled with writing throughout my teenage years but eventually life happened and the dream of authorship slipped into the background. My love of telling stories didn't disappear though and I found an outlet in tabletop RPG games. I have a large group of professional adult friends who still roll the dice on the weekends and I've been a GM for almost two decades now. The desire to start writing again resurfaced with my discovery of urban fantasy. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files in particular have been a big inspiration and I've really enjoyed the many Youtube videos in which Jim. Butcher also has some great articles and blog posts about the writing craft. Urban fantasy inspires me because it's a genre where the familiar world collides with the fantastic and all kinds of cool and crazy mayhem can ensue.
MV: Every writer has a different process. What can you tell us about yours? Do you have a set time to write? Do you plot first, or are you more of a pantser?
RP: I am both a planner and a discover writer. The first thing I do is to think of my story in terms of a movie, I visualize and then write down the various action scenes that I picture. Every good action scene needs a cool environment/location. This is where my research begins, finding cool locations and reading all about them. After I've picked out the location, studied, and built them up in my mind, I let the monsters go crazy on them. Once all these cool sets and action scenes are built, it's time to decide what characters go into them and why the event is taking place. Once the characters are assigned their scene and a reason for the scene is established, I try to outline it all into the three act play format. After all this, I start writing. I am in no way constrained by my advanced notes and outlines; I have no problem straying from them and often do. In the end, my story might be quite a bit different from the outline, but all of the action sequences will be there as envisioned. The characters themselves are the most likely to change during the course of a story and I in fact do very little pre planning for characters, I let them evolve as they will.
MV: What are some of your influences as a writer?
RP: As stated earlier, I read and listen to almost everyting posted by Jim Butcher. I also listen to the Writing Excuses podcast done by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. I've also been learning a lot about writing from Alexandria Stokoloff's blog and books about screenwriting tips for authors. I've learned the most however from just reading. I am a big epic fantasy fan; I love George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan. Aside from Jim Butcher, I love Illona Andrews's Kate Daniels series, The Hollows by Kim Harrison, and Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series. Oh, and I shouldn't forget Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. There are so many good stories and authors out there, it's really a great time to be a reader, and I feel like I learn something new after each book that I finish reading.
MV: You've been working for the North Country Center for Independence for thirteen years now. What can you tell us about the work you do there to enhance the independent lifestyles of people with disabilities?
RP: Independent Living Centers exist all across the US. They are non profit agencies that are consumer run (meaning that over 50% of Board members must be disabled) and heavily staffed by people with disabilities. The idea is that no one is in a better position to help other disabled people achieve independence than someone who's already been through the fire themselves. The ultimate goal is to empower people, to let them make the decision that affect their lives. For most of my tenure at NCCI, I was a disability rights advocate and essentially the communications specialist. I mobilized the grassroots in my area of NYS to move legislation in a direction that was beneficial to people with disabilities. Now I'm the Executive Director, which means I manage the staff, write reports, and make decisions for the organization. I've really been blessed to be part of such a movement of inspiring advocates and civil rights leaders.
MV: How do you balance your career as Executive Director for NCCI, your family, and your career as a writer now?
RP: It's not easy, but being personally disciplined helps a lot. I set Sunday's aside as my writing day and that's pretty much it. That doesn't mean that I don't do book related work at other times, but Sunday is the time specifically set aside for actual chapter writing. I leave things like research and outlining for weekday evenings. Saturday is a day of relaxing, aside from house chores that is. My work for NCCI does come ahead of my writing career but so far there really hasn't been an issue.
MV: What are some of the challenges you've faced both in life and as a writer who is legally blind? What advice would you give to others who might be in your shoes?
RP: I really appreciate that you asked this question. My blindness makes me a slow reader, this is particularly challenging during the revision process. I don't worry about reading what I write during the first draft, the goal is to finish the story. That all changes during revision, now I have to read the entire manuscript multiple times and make many adjustments. This means my revision process is slow and methodical. I am extremely lucky to have an amazing editor working with me. Patience is a virtue that you must master as a blind person, not only am I slower at everything I do but I am constantly waiting for rides or for help with certain activities. Being flexible, creative, and persistent are important characteristics that all people should develop and master if they can; these traits are an absolute must for a person with a disability if they want to succeed in life. Also you have to have a thick skin, don't let people's meanness hurt or deter you. You have to be trusting of others and not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Accepting your limitations does not equal inability to do anything, having lofty dreams and working to achieve them is healthy for all people, disabled people should do no less. In a weird way, Wail of the Banshees is almost a metaphor for this; Veronika dies at the beginning of the book and soon discovers that death isn't a career ending injury, it's the beginning of her story. Having a disability isn't the end of the story, it's the beginning of a life of challenges, hopes, dreams, disappointments, hard work, and adventure, it's pretty much like anyone else's life.
MV: Wail of the Banshees is your first novel. What has the process of getting published been like for you?
RP: It's been very interesting and a lot of work. I went through a grueling eight month process in which I developed a business plan for Ghost Watch Publishing. The end result of that work was that I was able to secure a self employment grant from the New York State Commission for the Blind. The grant enabled me to pay for an editor, an artist, and interior layout and eBook formatting conversion. I've had a website built at www.ghostwatchpublishing.com and I've done some blogging and a lot of social media networking. Marketing is the trickiest part of this whole process, I've found that what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others. I read guides like How To Make A Killing on Amazon, which has a pretty straight forward set of marketing directions, but do they work for everyone that reads the book and follows the recipe? I know there's always a disclaimer about how a book has to be good, but my guess is that even a lot of good books get missed in the avalanche of novels coming out each day. I've learned that perseverance and patience are also needed ingredients in any plan.
MV: What sort of teases can you give us for your second novel, Death Toll?

RP: First off, if you buy Wail of the Banshees in either paperback format or eBook format, there is a full, action packed chapter from Death Toll in the back of the novel. Secondly, if you keep an eye on my book tour with Bewitching Book Tours, you will likely get a chance to read the prologue to Death Toll. I can also tell you that if you are a fan of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, you should be highly interested in Death Toll. There will be two new mainline supporting characters joining protagonist Veronika Kane in the second novel. The wizard of Philadelphia, Nathaniel Carter, mentioned once in Wail of the Banshees, will be making Veronika's unlife very interesting. Also joining the team is former CIA agent, Brianna Martin, were-ferret extraordinaire. And everyone's favorite crusading, foul mouthed detective, Frank Cooper will be returning in Death Toll. Lastly, I'll hint that there might be a scene in which a troll uses the Liberty Bell as a melee weapon against the forces of chaos...really, it could happen.

I want to thank Mara for giving me this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and about Wail of the Banshees. I really appreciated the fact that Mara didn't shy away from asking me questions about my disability and how it affects my work. I want to thank you, the readers, for reading through my rambles and I hope you'll give Wail of the Banshees a read. I won't promise you a masterpiece of literature, it's not. What I can promise is a big budget, summer, soda and popcorn kind of read.