Hale Maree Tour, Mercy teaser, & BIG Book Giveaway

Hey gang! Really exciting stuff today ...

A few weeks ago, I believe I shared the cover for author Misty Provencher's debut Adult novel, Hale Maree. Well, she (the story) is now out in the world (HERE and HERE), and to celebrate Misty is touring and giving away some sweet prizes.

More on the prizes below but first--Misty ALSO (lady is crazy busy!) has a new, New Adult story slated to debut next week. It's called Mercy, and it's all about gargoyle shenanigans. Here's a sneak peak: (Excerpt provided by author.)

I have seen this thing in a book once.  A photo that was not this, but similar enough to identify it.  It is out of place here, but as the thing scrapes to grip the rock, I am almost certain I am looking at a gargoyle.

"Surprised? Disappointed?" The thing says. "That a grotesque, an ugly would be sent to save you?  Not the beautiful, not the angelic?  Haughty Slip.  What is the matter with me?  I have wings."

And the thing spreads out hideous, thin wings, darker gray than it's body and spiny as the backbone of a starving child.  He pushes them down so hard that the water churns around me, bashing my body against the rock, over and over again.

Enough! I scream inside.  Leave me for the angels to find!

The gargoyle's giggle escapes in charred wisps, but the thing tucks in its wings with one sticky, awkward fold.

"Strength is not exclusive to beauty, darling."  The gargoyle growls, hovering closer to my face.  "You will exist, Slip.  And you will do it knowing that these ugly claws were the only ones that reached out for you.  They are what came to save you, and not those celestial beings."

It's finger, pointy as a stinger, swoops down to prod me, but at the last second, all of the gargoyle's claws spread wide.  The tines of its fingers clutch my skin and my soul is thrust back into my soft bread cage body.  A caustic scream awakens from my bloodless shell and echoes among the milky-eyed fish that stare up at me as I am carried away.

Mercy sounds pretty epic, right? And another home run cover to boot. I'll definitely be looking for it when it lands next week...

Now for the giveaway! Below are two Rafflecopter forms where you can enter for a chance to win this pile o' booty:

So be sure to enter, and check out Hale Maree, too. The early reviews have been stellar. Best of luck on both Misty! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

NaNoWriMo: Reflections & Guest Post

Hey gang! Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday weekend. We ate too much, decorated trees (as is our custom on the Friday after Turkey Day), and generally lived the good life for a few days. If I could've had you all over for pie and football, it might've been the perfect weekend. :-) 

Photo courtesy of LMRitchie, WANA Commons
We are in the final days of National Novel Writing Month, and though I've never taken part, I'm always fascinated by, and supportive of, those who do. 50,000 words in 30 days is a significant undertaking for novel newbies and vets alike. And a number of brilliant stories and authors have been hatched during the frantic Fall scribblefest. 

To honor their hard work, I'm sharing a guest post from author Amy Evans. She discusses the often difficult decision to jump into the National Novel Writing Month challenge, and (I think) nicely encapsulates why the month is special. 

To NaNo or not to NaNo….by Amy Evans
In case you live under a rock, or have been knocked out of electronic commission by Superstorm Sandy like yours truly, you probably already know that Nov. 1st is the kick off for National Novel Writing Month (NaNo.) The community driven event challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in thirty days; offering support, daily goals, and organization tips. While many have been planning for NaNo for weeks, months, or even all year, I have personally been going back and forth all week on what to do in November this year.

NaNo holds a special place in my heart because two years ago I used it to get back to writing fiction after a five year hiatus. As a new mom, I’d found it almost impossible to find the time to write, and when I did the pressure to produce something fabulous prevented me from putting anything down on paper. Enter NaNo. Admittedly, I “pantsed” it, planning very little and writing whatever came to mind within a large story context and the recommended daily word count. And it worked.

While I didn’t make the word count that month, I did write 35,000 words of a new novel, which was 34,000 more words than I’d completed on any fiction project in five years. In 2011, I used NaNo to finish the first draft of the novel I’m completing now. It took me five months to write the first 20,000 words, and then two months to complete the next 60,000 thanks to the pace I managed to maintain even after NaNo ended.

Which brings me to this year. Originally, I’d planned to write book two in my current series. But then I hired an amazing editor who was worth waiting for, and I just got notes back today. It is not the right time for me to start something new but I don’t want to give up on participating in NaNo.

So my adapted goal this November is to use the energy and the drive that NaNo has brought into my life for this edit. I have thirty pages of notes to address, and 80,000 words. I’m counting on NaNo to cancel that voice inside my head that ordinarily questions if my work is good enough. Because what I’ve learned previously is that if I can stick to the NaNo schedule, everyday the work amazingly gets better.


Thanks again to Amy for sharing her process! Be sure to 'click' her name above and give her a follow on Twitter (if you do such things). She's a very insightful and fun follow.

So where do you stand on NaNoWriMo? Did you take up the challenge this year? If so, are you finished? What did it mean for you? If you didn't take part, would you ever consider it?

For those in the thick of it, still 2 days left to meet your writing goals, and I'm cheering you on! 


A Writer Has A Lot To Be Thankful For

I wanted to wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving. Simple. But then the coffee hit my brain and I thought what do I--as a writer--have to be thankful for? Yeah, this could take a minute...

Photo courtesy of Pep Talk Polly, WANA Commons
I published my first work this year. (Just a couple of months ago, in fact.) The nature of the story makes it something I'm not certain would've seen the light of day a few years ago. It's short, but long (a novelette, which is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella); it's written for/in a category that doesn't exist in some publishing circles (NA); and it's speculative (it crosses over a few genres--paranormal, horror, etc.). Basically, there isn't a shoebox to shove it in.

THANKFULLY, in this day and age I can build my own shoeboxes, and I'm certainly trying. I don't need permission to write and share things, just the desire to do it. 

Writing can be a lonely business. It's difficult to share things after you've created them, and all but impossible to do so as you're creating them. We're those solitary kids in the sandbox, building fragile structures that are always grander in our minds. Try to ask us what we're up to, and we might just shush you and say, "Not so loud! It could fall over any second, and I want see how much I can build before it all goes away."

THANKFULLY, I'm never truly alone. I've met so many other writers online. People who do what I do, and struggle with the things I struggle with. Most of them are quick with an encouraging word when I need picking up, and heap inspiration into my world with the click of  a mouse button. They're my homies--my peeps--and most days, they're all the company I need.

When I tell people I write fiction, a typical response is, "Man, I wish I could do that." My typical response is, "That's funny, because that's exactly how I got started. I wanted to do it." It goes deeper than that, sure, but the idea is a simple one: You must start before you can finish.

I'm THANKFUL every day that I started. Frustration bleeds out my ears at times, sure. Yes, feelings of inadequacy nip at my heels with every success, and damn near swallow me whole with the setbacks. But I'd never know the euphoria of seeing the view from the summit--a finished project--had I not endured the climb.

I've been to Jupiter, and it wasn't all that. I've killed a werewolf--and it was awesome! I saved the world three times last year. Impossible? For most, but not for me...

Writing means you have no boundaries. If it can be considered, it can be done. Good guys can be bad, bad guys can be good, and kids can save the adults. That's the true beauty of creating with words, and I'm THANKFUL for the freedom.

Those are just a few of a long list of things that crossed my mind this morning. What's on your 'thankful writer' list?

Hope you all have the happiest of Thanksgivings, and looking forward to finishing out the year on the other side amongst my many dear blog friends! 


New Adult Lit - Haters, Champions, & Being Heard

Howdy gang! Can you smell the slowly darkening, roasted meat of a bird lovingly rubbed with herbs and butter? Can you hear the chirp of an oven timer, prompting the removal of yet another pie or golden loaf of bread? Can you taste the toasted cinnamon and oozing marshmallows from your second helping of sweet potato pie?

Thanksgiving is almost here, and if you couldn't already tell, it's my favorite holiday. From the fellowship to the food, there's nothing like it. I also love that it doesn't get all tied up with the social and/or religious stuff that spoils so many other holidays. Thanksgiving is for all who are grateful.

And if I'm upright and breathing, I figure that's more than some folks have going for them, so I'm basically always grateful! One thing I'm especially grateful this year is New Adult (NA) literature. 

Photo Cred - Lisa L. Wiedmeier, WANA Commons
I rarely take time to blog about causes. Not because I don't have them. Ask my family and friends, I get fired up about plenty of things. It's just I've learned (the hard way, trust me) that the things I'm passionate about are usually things lots of other people are passionate about, too.

The louder I squawk, the louder they squawk--and it all just ends up being noise. Noise that usually drowns out the things that the needed the attention in the first place (i.e. not me).

Today, I make an exception.

As many of you know, I'm a champion for the rise of New Adult literature. Now, I'm not the most prominent or eloquent--or tallest--of the banner waivers. (Maybe that's why I feel the need to stand on a soapbox for this issue.) But I definitely believe in it, and here's why.

New Adult is more than marketing. NA is more than a niche being carved out by fringe authors and readers. NA is big, small, smart, and slow. NA goes beyond what YA can (and arguably should) do, and fills the gaps left by the leap from YA to Adult. 

More importantly than all of that, New Adult gives a voice to a specific set of readers and authors. There's a group of people who are 18-26 years of age, and everyone has--or will--fall into that category if they've lived long enough. And those folks shouldn't have to apologize for wanting their own shelf in a bookstore.

They read and write, and therefore have earned a say in what they want to see in a store. Well, at least in my eyes. As I pointed out above, there are definitely people who don't agree. A couple of recent articles I read reminded me of that (here and here). 

Haters Gonna Hate, Yo

I think the kids call them haters, but whatever they go by, it's clear NA has its detractors. People who are cheering just as hard for NA to go away as I am for it to exist. The ironic thing for me, is that these folks seem to be losing their rational minds when they argue against NA.

They discount the Internet like it's a couple of goth kids crashing prom. Hello! The Internet practically IS society at this point. If it isn't on the Web, it might as well not exist in the minds of 80% of the US population.

They say NA is being foisted upon the world by self-published authors. Which, other than being insanely offensive, is dead wrong. It's actually the opposite: the world (or readers) is foisting New Adult on literature. (A great article on NA sensation Tammara Webber and her BIG NA book deal, and why NA has happened.)

So is the sky falling? Will a few 'knowledgeable' or 'important' people chime in, call NA a 'non-thing', and pee on the parade for the rest of us? Short answer: NOPE.

The NA THING is happening. It has already happened to an extent, and as long as authors and readers continue to demand it, NA will grow. And it needs to. 

The Spice of Life

I sometimes think there are people who would prefer that we all read the same 6 books, from 2 categories, and that's it. (If it's coming from an author or agent, probably THEIR 6 books, incidentally.) Which isn't only misguided, it's dangerous.

That kind of thinking crushes the spirit of creativity. It stymies growth in both society and individuals. A great story can help someone take the next step in their life. A good book can shift the path beneath our feet, forever altering where, and how far, we can go. 

For that to happen, there has to be as many stories as there are readers, because each person is going to be moved by something different. If they don't have it, an opportunity is lost.

I'll leave you with this: Be you reader or writer, beware anyone who suggests a niche or group shouldn't exist, and support those who struggle to be heard. Fight for the books and stories you like to read and write to be recognized--at every level. And the louder people are who oppose the idea, the more important it becomes for you to speak up.


What Veterans Day Means for Active Duty Military

Hey gang! Hope everyone had (or is having, if off for the holiday) a great weekend. 

This is a rare non-writing related post, and nothing overly complicated or earth shattering. Just me wanting to share some thoughts on a day/weekend that means a lot to my family and me. I'm also going to share a few details about my personal life, which I don't often do. Hope you enjoy...  

Credit: Lynn Kelley, WANA Commons
For many, Veteran's Day conjures images of 90 + year olds who fought in a World War. We think of those men and women who sacrificed--so many with their own lives--in the name of our country. 

My wife's grandfather is still living. He fought in every major theater in Europe, WWII. He was on the beach at D-Day, he fought at the Bulge, and missed the birth of his first child as a result (he didn't see our 'Aunt Sandra' for the first time until she was over 2 years old--she was afraid of him, incidentally). 

HE is a national treasure, because there just aren't many of his kind left.

And he's just 1 of numerous relatives we both have who have fought in wars and served over the years. My grandfather was in the Navy in WWII, as was her other grandfather. I have uncles who fought in Korea, a father-in-law who served during Vietnam, etc. 

There is a certain amount of reverence held for those people, and justifiably so.

My wife is an officer in the United States Air Force. She signed up nearly 10 years ago as part of a scholarship program. It's a life neither of us imagined for ourselves when were 18, I can tell you that. It definitely comes with compromises.

We get to live in a variety of places. We don't have to worry about her having a job when we relocate, or me having health insurance. But we've also had leave behind our families, and too many dear friends.

So when we went out for lunch yesterday and she received a free meal because of her current service, I dare say she felt no less pride and gratitude for the offering than any of those great people I mentioned above feel when someone would tell them 'thank you'. 

It's special, because 99.9% of the time she's like everyone else: just doing her job. And she expects all the recognition most people get for doing their job, which is to say not much. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a boss say, "Hey, thanks for doing what we pay you to do."

They are willing, and required, to surrender their safety and comfort if called--no questions asked. It's implied, and gratitude is not necessary, but that doesn't mean it's not appreciated. 

For active duty military, the holiday is special for the same reasons that most of us think it's special. It's a way to honor those who've gone before. Most of our military friends have a family legacy of serving. They are carrying the mantle of grandfathers and mothers who also served. 

But the holiday also gives a rare moment of recognition to what THEY do, and are willing to do, on a daily basis. That makes them feel special and appreciated at their very core--even with the simplest thank you ... or maybe even a free cookie.

So, from the spouse of an active duty serviceperson to all of those who take the time and effort to honor someone who has served, or is currently serving in the military this weekend: Thank YOU. Know it means so much to all of them.


Trusting the Process

Hey gang! What a wild/fun week I had last week. We went to the Mouse House in Orlando, got up close and personal with Harry Potter, and drank our share of the butterbeer (think sugary cream soda with a SUPER sugary cream topping ... yeah, it's that bad for you, and that awesome).

Enjoying a cold drink in the Hog's Head Tavern- No, that's not butterbeer. ;-)
Anyway, I'm back (physically at least) and ready to make the final push towards the publication of the second Moonsongs book. With a little luck, it'll be out in December. And I'm totally not bragging here, but I'm very excited for people to read it. I think the story is bigger, and in some ways better, than the first. 

Jenny (the mc) is really beginning to stretch her legs as a character. She gets pulled deeper into the supernatural world her tribal ancestors have fought against for so many generations, and learns that not all of the scary things out there want to eat you--some just want you dead. Plus, there are witches, both cool and evil. 

Basically, there's just a lot going on, and I think it'll be a fun ride for folks who enjoy True Blood-esque adventures. I've had a blast crafting it, that's for sure.


Photo credit to Lynn Kelley, WANA Commons 
But now it's time for the final polish. That means applying editorial feedback. Some of which is quite straightforward, and pretty painless. Change this word, rearrange that sentence, etc. But some of the changes aren't so easy to execute...

I always try to make sure my stories go into the 'editor' phase as polished as I can make them. That's for two reasons: 1) I don't want to purposefully make my editor take up drinking if they don't already. 2) It translates to less work for me on the other side.

What does sending it in as polished as possible mean for me? Typically 3 drafts pre-beta/critter work overs, and 1 to 2 more post beta/critter. And sometimes, if the beta/critter feedback results in major changes, it might go into another round of beta/critter--and more drafts follow. THEN it goes to the editor. 

Sounds like a lot right? IT IS! But I'm someone who likes to feel confident about something before moving onto the next stage. For me to feel confident in a piece of writing, I need to hear from several different perspectives that I've essentially captured what I set out to do with a particular story. 

These Moonsongs stories are a bit of a different beast, because they're novelettes--which translates to 'longer than a short story, shorter than a novella'. So a big part of my objective is that the plots stay tight, and the pacing zips. I want them to be a movie-like experience. Something you can enjoy in 2-4 hours, and feel that you've been entertained when you finish. 

That's where the editor really pays off. 

Story # 2 has been through multiple critters. While none of them said it was perfect, the feedback was 99% great, and I addressed nearly every quibble the critters had in rewrites prior to sending it off to the editor. 

That's the point where you begin to think--no matter how many times you've been through this process and know better--"I've done it! This is a great story as is." You can't help it. You love your critters. You've read their work, and trust them implicitly. Furthermore, you're really beginning to love the story again. (Trust me, you hate the dang thing at several points during this cycle.) 

Trusting the process is oh so important at this juncture. When those edits come back, and you see the number of things you've missed--or just screwed up--in your 'great story' it feels like starting over in some ways. (But you're totally not!)

You might even be tempted to cross your arms and say, "Bah, readers already like it. Why should I chop out two pages of the opening scene for the sake of pacing?"

The answer is simple: Because you want the story to be everything you dreamt it COULD be. The only chance you have of doing that is making it as tight as possible. That means heeding your editor's advice, listening to your critter complaints, and doing 2 more drafts beyond the last draft you vowed you'd ever do. 

It can be disheartening. It can be fantastic. But it's all part of the process, and that you have to trust.