Friday, October 26, 2012

YA Indie Carnival - Spooky, Scary, & Eerie

It's that time of year when the sponsors of the YA Indie Carnival post stories or excerpts that will have you biting your nails and begging for people to sleep with you for the next few days. This post is timely for me. I'm writing a scene for Dark Angels of the Cross, and it has had such an unexpected impact on me that my sleep has become fitful and restless because my dreams are so deadly... foretelling... and--worst of all--real! 

Anyone who has read The Warrior Series knows I will not shy away from suspenseful or thrilling or brutal scenes. The one I'm living through is so much more. It's all of that rolled into one and built on top of an extreme sense of loss. I won't say anything more, but fans of the series are in store for lots of surprises. Just stay tuned.

In the meantime, I've included the parking garage scene from Guardians of the Cross. This is one of the scariest scenes of the book according to my beta reader. If you've ever had to walk alone through a dark parking garage at night, you can understand why.

Don't forget to take a few minutes to browse the other members' sites.  ENJOY!

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Brody screeched to a stop, jumped out of the car, grabbed Mallory, and carried her toward the ER.  “Allie, park the car and meet us inside,” he called over his shoulder. 

Unable to do anything but follow directions, I climbed into the driver’s seat.  At the automated garage gate, I pushed the red light and sat impatiently while the arm slowly lifted, allowing me entrance.  I didn’t bother taking the yellow time-stamped ticket from the machine.  I was completely irritated by the time I reached the third floor without finding an empty spot. 

I whipped Brody’s car into it and cut off the engine.  At that exact moment, the entire garage went black.  Reality hit me hard.  I had to wade through this darkness, alone, in order to make it inside where Mallory and Brody were waiting.  Logically, I knew my heart was not beating as fast as a hummingbird’s, but it felt like it was pounding at the same rapid rate.  Regardless, I refused to call Brody away from Mallory or make her wait when she needed me.    

Ignoring the blackout and my fear, I got out of the car and slammed the door closed behind me.  Sucking in courage like it was air, I felt my way along the warm hood of the car and over to the cold cement wall in the middle of the garage.  I let the familiar barrier guide me toward the staircase.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not ignore the uneasiness bubbling its way to the surface of my nerves.  Everything – the absolute stillness, quiet, and gloom – reminded me too much of the morning I was attacked... too much of Daryl's plans for me.  

I wanted to run toward the ER, but my inability to see my hand in front of my face prevented the sprint I craved.  I was forced to awkwardly fumble my way along the divider, stumbling several times. At the end of the wall, I knew there was a crossover that would lead me to the staircase. Somehow, it looked darker and more ominous than the garage.  Was that possible?   

I, before I knew what was happening, tripped over a block meant to protect pedestrians from traffic.  Despite my own racket, I heard footsteps speeding toward me. With a force that caused my breath to catch, I regretted my every decision that day.  On my knees, I prayed for the strength to make it out alive. 
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Friday, October 19, 2012

13 on Halloween (Shadow #1) by Laura A.H. Elliott

13 on Halloween (Shadow #1) by

YA Indie Carnival - Kindle Serials

Kindle Serials  - This week, the sponsors of the YA Indie Carnival are sharing our opinions on the serial novel phenomenon. For me, it's a little too new to do anything more than regurgitate the information coming straight from Amazon's Kindle Serials website: Kindle Serials are stories published in episodes. When you buy a Kindle Serial, you will receive all existing episodes on your Kindle immediately, followed by future episodes as they are published. Enjoy reading as the author creates the story, and discuss episodes with other readers in the Kindle forums.

I'd be lying if I said I was not intrigued. Amazon has done some amazing things for indie authors. I'm sure this will be another of those diverse opportunities that I'll only get on Amazon. At the same time, book writing is the weaving of a story. If I publish one chapter before the end of the book was finished, I might miss a great opportunity to foreshadow something that will happen later or to go back and develop the characters, settings, and storyline in a manner that makes what they eventually do more believable. I think of my books as quilts that are stitched by hand. Each word a thread. Each chapter a patch. Each book a blanket. You can not sell the quilt one patch at a time without a plan to make that patch the beautiful quilt it could someday be.

In fact, the mere thought of putting something out there that could change for the better by the end of the story is anxiety producing for me. I even have a hard time doing it with my beta reader.  I worry that he will never get to see the story through the eyes of someone reading the clean and edited version for the first time. While these serials would be edited, they may be missing the evolution of the story that only comes through when you begin tying the beginning chapters to the middle and end of the story. 

I should also mention that I worry a little bit about the coordination of the editing. For example, if I commit to having a book a month released. I would have two weeks to write, one week for edits, and one week to format and release. If my editor can't get to it right away, my deadline (my promise to my customers) is shot. My work ethics prevent me from missing goals/timelines. I'm here for my customers. It's not now nor will it ever be the other way around.

My writing habits and my need to meet established goals make it impossible for me to pursue a serial using an unfinished book. Instead, I believe that I may pursue this avenue with Dark Angels of the Cross,... but only after the book has been written and edited. At that time, I will determine how much of the book will be released and at what intervals so that I can release a product I can be proud of without disappointing the many fans of The Warrior Series. The best news of all is that this plan will go a long way toward minimizing the tension/stress between my editor and me. She's awesome, but constant deadlines without regard to her other clients could be try even a saint's nerves.

Finally, I'd like to point to a book that is #14 on this week's NYT Best Sellers ListBecause You Are Mine Part VI: Because You Torment Me by Beth Kery. It may not perfectly fit the serial methodology, but it is not a whole novel. The fact that the book is short and the readers are being forced to buy each individual installment at the same price as some indie novels has not kept this book from making onto the best seller list. Please know that I am in no way endorsing this book. I have no idea what it is about or anything about its author, I am simply showing you an example of a serial-like book that proves this avenue can be successful. Since Beth Kery's experiment has gotten her on the best sellers list, I suspect many others, including myself, will follow her path.

Now, take a few minutes to see what my fellow members have to say about serials:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

YA Indie Carnival - Indie Opportunities

My fellow YA Indie Carnival members and I are sharing lots of great stories about the wonderful opportunities presented each and every day within the life of an indie author. This is one of those subjects where the answers are endless. Being an indie author has allowed me to achieve goals I'd never dreamed of accomplishing... open myself up in ways I'd never thought possible... and meet people I'd never have the pleasure of friending otherwise. 

Eighteen months and three published books later, I can easily say the most important opportunity has come in the form of great new fans, friends, followers, and fellow authors. I get new notifications on a constant and consistent basis. Most of those people chose to do little more than send me a notification and quietly follow my posts and/or reviews. The rest read, review, and rate my books. Regardless of their activity, I'm eternally grateful for every person who has reached out to me. I try to make sure to thank them all and let them know how important their feedback is because they guide me toward the author I want to be. 

I would be lying if I didn't admit it was AMAZING to make it onto several of Amazon's Best Sellers Lists. Don't get me wrong, I have dozens and dozens of more goals as it relates to best seller lists, but my accomplishments so far have meant a lot to me. 

Being an indie author has helped me to understand the importance of a good review. As an avid reader and frequent blogger. I've made it a practice to post reviews anytime I read a book that I LOVE. I don't feel the need to write about a book I don't like or demean the author who wrote it; therefore, my book reviews are always honest yet overwhelmingly positive. I won't apologize for following my mother's most important advice, 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.' The reason I'm mentioning my reviews is because of the satisfaction I get when another author reads them and is impressed enough to share it with their fans. That acknowledgement is as exciting as anything else I do in my indie author career. The two most memorable shares - because I adore these authors and their books - include Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus, and Julie Kagawa, author of The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1). Without being an indie author, I would not have begun posting my reviews, and I would still be anonymously reading and recommending my favorite books to a few of my closest friends rather than thousands of potential readers.

Don't forget to visit my fellow authors' sites:

1.Laura A. H. Elliott 2.Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3.T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series4.Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5.Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6.K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7.Gwenn Wright, author of Filter8.Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9.Ella James10.Maureen Murrish
11.YA Sci Fi Author's Ramblings12.A Little Bit of R&R
13.Melissa Pearl

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Future Releases - Fall 2013

I know it seems like the fall of 2013 is forever away, but it takes months to write a book... and months more to write two. I plan to release Worth Dying For and Worth Living For next fall. Until then, I'm sharing the book covers--courtesy of Claudia Lucia McKinney (Phatpuppy Art)--and the synopsis for each. ENJOY!

Worth Dying For,Underwater Series #1 To Be Released 12/1/13

Isis, future Queen of the Coral City, lives a fairytale life and loves it all the way down to the last preordained detail. Others might resent a life so structured, but Isis thrives on knowing she was born to marry Set, bare his children, and spend her days reigning over the world she loves.
When the flaws deeply embedded within her enchanted world begin to surface and war threatens her kingdom, Isis realizes her dreams may never come true... that there may not be a world to rule if her enemies have anything to say about it. Determined to fulfill her destiny, protect her family, and preserve her city's peaceful state, Isis petitions to become a frontline soldier in the Underwater War.
General CoeusSet's twin brother and a man who hates everything Isis is fighting to protectreluctantly agrees to train and prepare her for the battle. Early on, she wonders whether his training methods will kill her before she ever steps the first foot onto the battleground.

As war grows closer and the preparation sessions between her and Coeus become more intense, Isis's visions for her picture-perfect life turns upside down, and she begins doubting everything she has ever been told. With Coeus' declaration of undying love, she understands that a life filled with love and happiness—rather than friendship and duty—is the only one worth dying for.

The brooding Coeus, twin brother to Set, hates the life he is forced to live. Making him even more rebellious is the fact that Apollo, his ruler and father, is intolerant of anyone who questions his antiquated customs... especially when that person is his very own son.
As the youngest twin, Coeus missed the honor of becoming the future ruler by seconds. He does not begrudge his brother's destiny. He does however resent the fact that Set's status as the oldest automatically makes him the man who will marry Isis, the most beautiful women in The Coral City and the only woman Coeus has ever loved.
In defiance of his father and their Piscean traditions, Coeus' refuses to marry his betrothed. Furious, Apollo sends him to the frontlines of the Underwater War. Coeus, who has a death wish, welcomes the chance to die for his kingdom because he knows that death would at least be honorable.
The last thing Coeus expects to find in the middle of the battle zone is Isis, but she is there, leading by example and fighting hard to protect the Coral City and its customs. After spending time with her and falling even deeper in love, Coeus decides to make her see what he sees... a life where they are together is the only one worth living for.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by


If I didn't know

Thursday, October 4, 2012

YA Indie Carnival - It Takes a Village

This week, the sponsors of the YA Indie Carnival are talking about the people who tell us when our plots gets weak, make our books look intriguing, polish our words, and format our pages... the people we can't live without. Beta readers, book cover designers, editors, and formatting specialists. As any author can tell you, there are many who offer their services, but all are not created equal.

Beta Readers: This person is one of the most important people in the writing process. For me, my beta reader takes time from his hectic schedule to read the unedited versions (without saying one word about all of my typographical errors) of my book-in-progress and provides valuable feedback.  I'm absolutely sure my beta reader assumes I'm going to get rid of scenes/characters/ settings when he suggests I do so. Instead, I do exactly the opposite. When he mentions he has a problem, I go to work to make the scene more realistic/haunting/passionate/happier... whatever it takes to change the scene from 'you've got to get it out of there' to 'it's the best scene you've ever written'.  If he tells me I will never make the readers like a certain character, I create redeeming situations that suddenly makes it impossible for the readers not to have feelings for that character. If my beta reader doubts my ability to create a fantasy world, I begin building one from the ground up. No detail too small. I don't stop weaving, building, and creating until he finally admits the scene is unforgettable...  the hated character is lovable... my fantasy world is believable. I'm truly grateful he does what he does, and he allows me to bounce ideas off him (sometimes in the middle of a boring meeting through the passing of notes ✿◠‿◠).

Book Cover Designers: I know there are probably millions of book cover designers, but for me and in my eyes, there is only one. Claudia Lucia McKinney (Phatpuppy Art). Claudia is talented, amazing, and kind. I've written about her so many times, I'm sure everyone is tired of hearing me gush, but I couldn't be more pleased that I found her, that she's my book cover designer, and that she is my friend. I should also mention that she is wicked fast. Usually, I tell her what I'm looking for or the changes I would like her to make to an existing piece. Before humanly possibly, she has a design back to me, and it is always perfect. As long as I'm an indie author and Claudia is designing covers, she will be my book cover designer.

Editors: This is one of the biggest trial and error aspects of my indie author career. Here's what I've learned. I'm an author who wants to be pushed, challenged, and made to be better. I want my editor to take the gloves off and tell me what I need to do to make my book phenomenal. I may be an anomaly. Also, it is very difficult for some people to give negative feedback.  Rather than make an author angry or be confronted with the reality that they are being paid to give negative feedback (when it's warranted), many editors edit the words as they are written instead of envisioning ways for those words to be more powerful. I had a slow start when it came to finding the right editor for me, but I can tell you without a doubt in my mind, I have the perfect editor now. Cassie McCown with gathering leaves. She doesn't let me settle for good enough, and I appreciate that in ways she will never know. When I get a good review or a positive comment about my books, I find myself wanting to share them with Cassie because I know how hard she works to help me get my books ready for publishing.  The comment I made about Claudia can be said for Cassie. As long as I'm an indie author and Cassie is editing, she will be my editor.

Formatting Specialist: Well, I'm my formatting specialist. It is not a task I enjoy, but it is one I've come to embrace with the help of Smashwords Style Guide. I'd like to say anyone can format their book and have it ready for iTunes (for an ebook) or CreateSpace (for a paperback book), but it took me lots of work to become mildly proficient at this chore. Eventually, I will turn this responsibility over to someone, but that won't happen until I find another Claudia/Cassie. Until then, I'll keep formatting specialist on my list of job duties.

Now, take a few minutes and see what the other members have to say about the people they enlist to help them.

1.Laura A. H. Elliott 2.Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3.T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series4.Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5.Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6.K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7.Gwenn Wright, author of Filter8.Heather M. White, author of The Destiny Saga
9.Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.10.Ella James
11.Maureen Murrish12.Valerie Sloan
13.YA Sci Fi Author's Ramblings14.A Little Bit of R&R
15.Melissa Pearl