Reviewed

pexels-photo-416322Today I did the thing. I asked complete strangers to judge me.

Well, technically not me. Technically I begged asked them to judge my book.

You’ll remember yesterday I was battling my demons- technology has never really been my thing (yes, even though I write a blog- modern blogs require no technical skill at all which I am eternally grateful for)- and I conquered formatting. Which, by the way, is not something I should ever brag about, because formatting a fiction book should be super easy for a normal human to do with a press of one or three buttons. I really have nothing to complain about- I wasn’t formatting a thesis with graphics all over the place or dealing with a million columns and photos like a newspaper. I guess this has given me the perspective I needed to even better understand what a hero the formatting guy was during my brief stint as a newspaper editor in college.

But today I did the next scary thing and tried to send my book around to different book reviewing blogs. It’s not really the judgement that stressed me out- any creative field is full of judgement and rejection letters so a low rating would be a bummer but wouldn’t shatter my self esteem or anything- but I have to find reviewers which has surprisingly turned in to a game of digital hide and seek. Not that there’s a shortage of book reviewers- there’s a ton of lit nerds like us out there- just that I have to sift through them to find people who’d be interested in a YA Fantasy book. That means going through a million false starts that only review a bunch of other genres.

Young Adult reviewers that are actually teens are even harder to find somehow. I don’t have anything against adults doing it, especially as I am an adult writing them in the first place, but I just feel like I’d really like to get a few actual teenagers reading my epic.

It’s been a little tricky, but ultimately I’ve done it. After all, dragons and revolution and magic and a secret past are something a lot of people are interested in. Maybe you are too? If so you can check it out here or preorder below.

UPDATE: This book is now published and live so you can now order it here

Continue reading Reviewed

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Victory is Mine!

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I finished it! If you’ve been staying in touch you’ll have read my earlier post and know that I had a few chapters to finish this week… and if you thought that writing five chapters in two days was not going to happen then you’d be completely right. And maybe you’d sound a little like my Mom. Let’s face it though, people don’t decide to take on the “Riskiest and most labor intensive desk career in the world” because they are completely practical and have both feet planted firmly on the ground. I’m here doing this writing thing as my full time career because I take risks and push myself beyond what the many practical people in my life recommended to do this thing part time around “pay the bills” kind of occupations because they kindly told me being an Indie author was unlikely to pay my rent or student loans within the first decade, yet here I am anyways.

That said, I did actually finish writing the content of the book on time. Wow! Yay! Five freaking chapters! You might be wondering why I said I only just finished the book ten minutes ago if I finished writing all the content on Tuesday though. That’s because I’ve been trying to figure out the messy art of formatting an ebook. This is not my first time at the rodeo, but the first time I did pay for a company to format for me because I couldn’t figure out how to do it on my own and I wanted to put it out there right away. In hindsight that was a terrible business decision on my part.

The second time I tried to format it myself and failed horribly- but it wasn’t too big of an issue because I was sending it off to be considered in an Anthology so when compiling didn’t work I just sent a raw Word document instead and that worked.

This time I took two solid days to figure out how to do the dumb thing. Now I just have to send that off to get reviewed. Fingers crossed that I don’t screw that one up too badly.

If you want to get a glimpse at the story you can head over to my sneak peek post.

If you want to be one of the first people to get your hands on the first book in the Shadeworld series (a truly epic YA Fantasy) you can preorder below if you have a Paypal account.

 

Cowboy Breakfast

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My Writing Prompt: Use a Photo

I was floating through the internet on my break today and decided to check out the Library of Congress’s digital resources. It’s the biggest library in the whole world, so obviously I think every reader and author should check out their stuff, and even if you aren’t as lucky as I am to live in NoVa with a mere hour long commute at rush hour to get in to see the gorgeous buildings there are still lots of cool things available on their website that anyone with WiFi can check out anywhere in the world.

Like this photo. The site says this is Chuck Wheelock whipping up breakfast on a ranch in Nevada. The cool plot twist is that apparently this takes place in the 70’s. I’d always thought anything remotely cowboy, like the movies and the actual lifestyle, was long extinct after the last blitz of cowboys in Hollywood in the fifties.

Looking at the photo kind of inspires me. I wonder what a cowboy book written today for YA readers would look like? Would it be a Steampunk Cowboy adventure, or would young readers enjoy reading a full showdown at high noon, or would a more down to earth daily chores and ranch friendships and trials be better? I’m honestly not sure if anything remotely Western themed would sell nowadays. I know my Dad is still a big fan of the movies he watched as a youth, but everything Western has been long gone from Pop media since I was born in ’94 and I don’t know if anyone would like it. Then again, a story about the world before the internet is always interesting to read.

What do you think?

Would you read a YA Western? What would you like in such a book?

Sneak Peek

PS_ The Dragon BitesMy next book is scheduled for publishing next month. Because this is the end of October, that means there are just a few days to go. I’ve been rushing around like a crazy person trying to get the last little bits of work on this done, but soon it will all be over and the book will be shiny and perfect and ready to go out in the YA world and shock and amaze the masses. (Is that a little too optimistic? Yes, definitely. That’s okay though, you have to be super optimistic to be a writer to balance out hundreds of rejection letters and all of that fun.) The story is pretty kick ass, if I do say so myself, but don’t take my word for it. Just look at the prologue below and I think you’ll be interested too.

“Did you hear,” the whispers began. “He found her, he found her!” Some said the power was too great and they were glad when it had been lost. Others laughed and smiled and mused that it could be a good thing, a magical thing, to have it in their power once more. The chattering echoed through the corridors of the palace and but for the magical wards on the imperial wing their monarch would have long since lashed out to silence the gossips.
A young woman in leathers and scarlet tunic stood before the desk in the private office tucked away behind the minor throne room and neatly shut off all murmurs with the slam of the doors sized for creatures more massive than all the courtesan’s slight appearances belied.
“You are sure of your information,” he asked her coldly. She was sweating. Failure meant punishment. A grievous punishment, as the standard of a swift death would not be severe enough to sate the appetite of their people for such an important reunion the nation had been yearning for these many years. She nodded silently, hands tightly grasped.
“This will work for the best,” he chuckled. He sprawled back in his chair, casual and comfortable like a lounging jungle cat.
“The next step is finally here,” he mused. He moved his rook on the marble board with those slim fingers. “Check,” he grinned. The harpy next to him frowned at the board, then swiftly cut in her queen. He furrowed his brow. “That was a dirty move,” he growled in disgust. She just shrugged and smirked at him. He stroked his beard, pondering his next move.
The woman still standing at attention shuffled on her feet, and wrung her hands behind her back. Both at the desk ignored her but a cloud of smoke in the corner unfolded onto the floor like a giant paper doll and slowly moved upright. A slight breeze moved around her glimpses of a woman constantly shifted and peeked through rips in the paper that quickly healed and popped up elsewhere on the figure.
“Your majesty,” the woman bowed to the apparition.
“It is good that we can rely on the info of the Amaryllis Squad, or should I call you one of the Red Guard Assassins?”
The woman blushed. “Both are accurate statements for all of our members, your majesty.”
The monarch humphed. “You may go tell the girl in charge of finding her,” the queen said calmly. “Make sure no one alerts Him to this development.” She sighed, adding, “I dare say it was time for the next step anyways.” She shooed the girl out, though the assassin looked at the king for confirmation before bowing and leaving in a brilliant flash of light. “Such impertinence to ignore a queen, of all people,” the woman huffed.
He didn’t bother to look up from his game to answer her. “Well, m’dear, I’m afraid that’s because you are queen of a small band of your own people, whereas I am king of the whole of the Mirrorworld. You have to accept that if anyone outside your people chooses to acknowledge you it is a mere courtesy for your position and not because you have any widespread influence.” He smiled at her, though it was a diplomatic smile that never reached his eyes and something about the words were threatening and declared her status as an underling.
She looked up at him, eyes blazing. He looked back calmly. She growled, the sound coming low from her throat even as her ire fed her breeze till she rippled like the fiercest gale. He growled back, sparks and flames whirling around him as he became clawed and furred like a mammoth caricature of a lion with scales wrapping around his core and cut through his ruff like a lady’s diadem. He roared at her. She looked down then, clearly having lost a fight for dominance. These little games were common in the gold dipped walls of the capitol, though few humans had ever lived to view the sight.
“Do you think it was wise to let them play the game,” the harpy woman asked, knocking aside one of his pawns on the board. She had stayed relaxed and focused on the game through the exchange but now she looked up at him. She dismissed the still indignant queen in the corner, and in a huff she finally left so only the two players were left.
“I suppose so,” he returned. He finally moved his knight. She instantly moved her queen across the board to capture it.
“He may have preferred to be informed of the situation. He’s always had a bit of a sensitive constitution,” she added.
The king snorted. “Have you seen his labyrinth? He’s got a hobby of throwing people who annoy him in there and sneaking into the human realm and terrorizing the village folk with views of his full dragon form, he’s not a sweet little hatchling anymore.”
She just shrugged. “Everyone has to go through their pillaging and terrorizing phase, just like they have to learn to walk or to do their first color changing spell. It’s part of the growing up process. The important thing is that he might feel very upset by being kept in the dark by this, and upset princes have led to violence and even sometimes revolutions in the past. That could muck up The Plan.”
“The Plan is set in motion and won’t be so easily ruined,” he smiled.
“We’ve only set her aside for a time and set a few spells. Do you feel confident we’ve done enough so far?”
He squinted at the board. “I think we`ve spent enough time on the preliminary moves,” he added, deep in thought.
“I hope those children don`t make too much of a mess of it,” she replied. Her lips lifted in the smallest of smiles over her move.
“Don`t worry,” he laughed, slapping the table. “They`re going to make a disaster of it, and come out the better for it!” He then moved a pawn that had somehow snuck onto her side of the board. “Checkmate,” he smiled.
“Why don`t we just watch over them and be sure nothing goes to wrong,” she asked.
“A touching sentiment for your future son in law.” She blushed and admitted she was fond of the boy. He slung his arm around her shoulder, creasing the velvet robes. With the other arm he opened a curio cabinet on the wall. There were vials and odds and ends, but the star of it was a shining crystal. It had uneven jagged sides, and stood like a single crystal flame on a gold disk base. He set it on the desk then. Both of them leaned in to look. Then, a burst of light shot out of the pointed end of the crystal, straight into the air. It stopped, then expanded out, a flat plane with the images of several people scrolling across the surface. Then it stopped, focusing in on one point. There was a girl with shining hair sitting on a city bench underneath a single street light.

Soon, everything would change for her.

If you’d like you can buy your copy in advance at the always-discounted-on-my-site price and have the ebook file emailed to you the second it releases.

Continue reading Sneak Peek

Five Chapters is all it takes

pexels-photo-261510Today and tomorrow I aim to finish revising five entire chapters. I bet you can easily guess this is a big chunk of work to complete in a small chunk of time. At this point I should have only had to work on finishing two chapters- which is still a bit of a procrastination problem as I was supposed to be sending the completely finished book off to reviewers a week or two ago like any good Indie author would have done- but still, I had finished all the other chapters. But then things happened. I was met with the dreaded corrupted file message. I’m thankful I had a backup of an earlier version of the book, but that means I have three more chapters on my to-do list today and tomorrow than I had anticipated.

It’s a little disappointing to me. But I think it’s a really interesting book. If you follow my Facebook page you’ll already have seen my teaser post of the cover and title. If you stay tuned, tomorrow you’ll get exclusive access to teaser one on this blog.

How to start a Youtube Channel?

pexels-photo-226243So this week- well actually this whole month if I’m being honest- I’ve been building myself up towards starting a Youtube channel. It’s a big undertaking. I feel like I can’t responsibly start a channel until I can reliably say I will be capable of releasing two videos a week (maybe eventually down the road even four videos, who knows?) and I still want to do some playing around and practicing with it before I feel ready to go public. So far my so called “practicing” has been talking to myself in front of mirrors, but every undertaking has to start somewhere, right?

I’ve been binge watching educational videos on the subject too- I figure if anyone knows how to do it, it’s actual established Youtubers. Most of them have either been a little bare bones educationally speaking and maxed out at encouraging you to “just do it” in the words of sportsy people, or have gone into the deep end of camera and lighting recommendations that add up to hundreds of dollars that have to be spent before actually making any videos at all. It’s all a little overwhelming and confusing, honestly speaking. That’s okay though because I’ve already taken the leap of committing to having a full time job as a writer before I’m making anything near full time writer income from my work, so if I have the guts to do something as crazy as that I can probably figure out how to diy a few lights and make my crummy laptop or phone camera work well enough to vlog because the one crappy ten year old digital camera I have has been missing since I last moved out of my dorm about a year ago- I won’t worry about it too much though because I’m sure it will show up again in a year or so.

In the meantime I’ll just have to pull myself together and move on from just talking to the mirror and work on talking in front of an actual camera. It’s a process, but I know it will be satisfying to share bookish things, and finding inspiration, and giving you guys a glimpse at the behind the scenes process of a full time writer.

Men and Domestic Abuse

pexels-photo-626164I know, that’s a super cheerful title, huh? Sarcasm aside, I really do think this is an important topic. Well, I guess you can kind of tell that, the whole crux of the plot of my first book was a daughter dealing with parents that involved a female abuser married to her male victim. Because of that, I ended up doing a lot of research on adult men in abusive relationships like the character suffered through, and I found that it’s actually a very common (though silent) problem.

It’s not a very fun thing to think about, but sometimes I like to read about things that are important too, and I think my readers feel the same way.

According to the CDC (as reported by Huffington Post), one male is the victim of domestic abuse every 37.8 seconds. And they aren’t the only ones who think it’s a problem. So if it’s one in four American men being abused at least once in their lifetime, what about the rest of the world? The Guardian reports that 40% of all domestic abuse victims in the UK are men- and that’s not including underage boys in their teens, just full grown being abused by their spouse, partner, or other person they are living with. The Toronto Sun goes so far to say that “Domestic violence against men is frequent and significant, and a rarely acknowledged fact.” And there’s Australia, where the campaign One in Three for male abuse victims claims as many as one in three Aussie men are victims of abuse.

Probably the most disturbing reality of male abuse victims is that most of us haven’t heard of them. You probably can’t name a male abuse victim safe house in your state, or even your whole country, while shelters and safehouses abound for women who have suffered the same life threatening fear and abuse. Male abuse victims can be maimed by revenge acid attacks, and beatings, and castrations, and even rape or murder- all of it not because they have done any crime or wrongdoing but because they started a relationship with an abusive terrible human and now that they’ve become a target. It’s not so easy for any abuse victim to leave their abuser.

If you follow discussion boards online set up for abuse victims you may hear stories of men wanting to leave, but their girlfriend or wife or stalker threatened to call the police and claim the abused victim was actually the one doing the same things, and when faced with the chance of going to jail for something they are innocent of doing they have another incentive to stay and continue to be a punching bag.

It’s also easy for anyone to say that if a man is getting beaten up or otherwise hurt by their partner then they should defend themselves. If you think about it though, if the victim can be charged for assault for just standing there and taking the abuse and attacks, they definitely can be charged for protecting themselves or fighting back.

It’s a hard topic to talk about. I’ll leave out links to more graphic resources, but if it’s a topic that’s of interest to you there’s plenty more material you can dive into to learn more about male domestic abuse victims. In the meantime though, if I can leave you with only one sentence on the topic it would be this, “When we talk about domestic abuse, please remember to categorize abusers as abusers and victims as victims instead of painting it as men are always the abusers and women are only ever the victims.”

Now if you or someone you know is suffering from abuse, keep in mind that there are resources out there for any gender or sexuality of victim: emotional support, and even financial support, is out there for you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch puppies and kittens online now. I’ve had enough of reading and writing about abusive situations for now.

 

Spooky, creepy, and a little dark: Family Inflamed

NIKON D5100Family Inflamed is my first book. I wrote it when I was frustrated, and scared, and mostly very frustrated being sick and stranded sitting in my chair staring out the window at the world just living life while I barely had the strength to walk over to pick up some snack bars every few hours instead of walking over and getting a good hot meal at the dining hall every day. I was grumpy, and a little dark, and I was too tired to do anything and couldn’t really even think straight but I could still get very very bored. So I explored the dark side of the internet a little. I thought a bit about not so pleasant things in the world.

The truth is I’m kind of famous in my social circle for being a bit of an optimist. My first book is definitely not cheerful in any way though. There’s a lot of dark themes going on in there. Full trigger alert: there’s rape, and domestic abuse, and death, and murder, and mental illness. It’s a dark kind of story. I think it’s interesting and my beta readers thought it was interesting and a book definitely worth reading- but don’t read it if you are in the mood for something fluffy and cheerful where the good guys save the day. I was a little tired of all the books aimed at teens that talked about dating and popularity and were just kind of silly when I was a teen, so this is a book that fulfills that craving for reading about real people with real issues. Don’t worry if that sounds too harsh for you though, it’s not all bad- after all, the dog lives in the end.

Sneak Peek: Family Inflamed

I released my debut novel this month. (My first piece of published writing in general happened way back, but this is totally and completely my first novel. You didn’t miss something. Pinkie promise!)

But I know for myself that I love to read the first chapters of a book before I can commit to it. Choosing which books to bring permanently into your book family is hard, and it feels pretty funky to risk adding an addition to your bookshelf family that in the end you can’t stand to read past the first chapter. Yikes! I hate reading fails like that. But no prob for you because I’ve got you covered. Here and now (and, well, actually forever because that’s how the internet works) you can get a sneak peek into the action:

here I was as miserable as could be.

I couldn’t get that support from my friends because I couldn’t trust them anymore.

I couldn’t get that support from my dad because he was broken and hurting right now, just barely living every day and taking as many long hours at work and conferences and out of town trips as he could get. I was worried he was building up too much stress, too much time away from his adulterous wife, and he’d either get his head on straight and finally file for a divorce or he’d come back one day raving and screaming and that woman in a fit of anger would call the police on him and lie and say he was abusing her and then I’d have even less support from the one person I could always trust, even if he wasn’t around for me right now.

Even if he was just as damaged and broken as I was right now.

And then after all our family had been through at the whims of that awful woman now a different woman I had trusted and cared about and relied on as a true friend had betrayed me so many times in so many ugly unspeakable ways. If I could think of it as little as I could bear to speak of it I’d at least finally be free of the haunting memories of all she’d done to me.

It was a cruel twist to my life.

And then I’d get night mares, night after night I’d dream of it and think of it.

And I’d pushed some of the memories out of my head and didn’t remember every little detail of what happened and how it happened, but I remember that feeling of her overwhelming strength, her sweaty hands crawling on my skin, that smell of her fruity perfume now stank like rot in my memories.

And on the one hand I wanted to remember, and remember who had twisted us and me like that and made life a little less bearable than it already was. Sometimes I wanted to push the thoughts to the edge of my brain and rob them of the power and spotlight they’d held in the time since it happened. Sometimes I’m glad I don’t really remember too much of it and I’m happy to get any space I can mentally from the dark and haunted part of me, from the horror of reliving it all again. But at the end of the day, I will remember at least a little bit no matter what I would have liked, and that meant I had to find some way to live with myself and my thoughts.

I think the best fall back when the very worst thing was in process happening to you is to just depend on the old faithful cure of becoming a workaholic. Sure, becoming a shopaholic and treating my sorrows with a little retail therapy would feel nice too, but I needed to keep some money freed up. I had big plans for that money, plans to move out into my own house when I graduated college so I could move my dad in to live with me instead of being pushed and pulled by the waves of my mother’s emotions, and I didn’t want to waste it buying things I didn’t actually need to try to feel better about a problem stuff probably wouldn’t be very effective to treat.

It was a mess, a true out of control disaster, and I wanted to hop on to it and grab it by the horns and ride off into the sunset on a bull built of my problems, but that was just wishful thinking that would be difficult or impossible to fulfill.

So that left me right at the beginning again, haunted by the sights of bare stone walls burned onto my eyelids, tortured by my memories reenacting every second of it with ghost hands in those same places along my body. I don’t know if it’s because of what happened or because I’m just a little mental, but now I didn’t feel a thing and it was a little rough knowing yet another thing in my life had been changed by that.

But that couldn’t really be changed. The past had gripped me and poisoned me and would never let me go, but it was time to drown my thoughts out so the memories would be blurred and the feelings would be pushed aside by exhaustion.

Totally haunting, huh. You can grab your copy on Amazon or other ebook stores. Learn more about the release here, and sign up to follow me if you want to keep up to date with future book releases (the next release will be published in a few months!)

Update on 10/27/2017: You can buy Family Inflamed for a cozy discount if you buy it directly from me on this site. The way it works is that when I sell a book through an ebook retailer they take a small cut of profits, so I have to sell at a higher price to cover those costs- but when you buy directly on this site I don’t have to pay any overhead so I can charge you the smaller take home profit I actually get off my books. Some ebook retailers are also known for “accidentally” forgetting to pay authors for a percentage of sales made, so by buying directly on my site you are guaranteeing the full purchase price goes directly to me and it’s kind of a cool way to show your support as a fan. If you don’t have a Paypal account however I appreciate it when you buy my books from any of your normal ebook retailers as well because that does still help me get paid and help you get your hands on your next fav read.

Family Inflamed

Melanie always seemed to have a great life. She had a new house, a new car, and the perfect family. But things are not always what they seem. Behind the grand doors screaming and broken knick knacks are the norm. But things are looking up for their family and it seems Melanie’s mother is starting to make progress in therapy- until they stumble on the shocking scene that reveals what she’s really been doing with the doctor. And then her Dad, the only solid point in her turbulent life, suddenly is gone for good.

Family Inflamed is a YA book full of intrigue, heartbreak, affairs and abuse and assault. Through one girl’s eyes we discover a toxic cesspool that is anything but the picture perfect family kids dream of. Melanie struggles to hold herself together and define herself and her life on her own terms and fights against fate in this coming of age drama.

Get a sneak peek inside the book here!

You can get your own copy on Amazon here, Kobo here, Nook here, and can even pick one up on international publishing platforms as well.

A physical print book is slated to come out within the year as well. I know as a reader I sometimes feel cheated if I buy multiple formats of the same book so I’m releasing the print edition with special edition bonus content including book club questions, interview with the author (that’s me guys!), and a discussion on why I thought it was important to have diverse characters including Asian American, Hispanic American, Middle Eastern American, LGBT+ and disabled characters (Spoiler alert: it’s because the real world is full of diverse different people and there are way too many teen books that act like the world is vanilla.)

An audio edition is not currently scheduled.