Monday, September 28, 2015

K.M.Herkes: Author Interview & Spotlight


Please welcome to my blog, K.M.Herkes, science fiction/dystopian author of Flight Plan.

Blurb: 

When terrorists fire-bomb Naomi Kwan’s San Francisco apartment block, her police record makes her a target for corrupt officials eager to shelter the true culprits. Innocence is no protection; dead scapegoats tell no tales. She flees her powerful enemies before they can silence her, but she can’t stay hidden forever. As conspiracies unravel on all sides, her fate rests in the hands of allies she doesn’t even know she has. 

Justin Wyatt is in no shape to go adventuring, but when the men who saved his life need help rescuing a friend in peril, he can’t refuse. Carl and Parker are determined to liberate a woman trapped by escalating violence, but they need resources only Justin can provide. He joins their mission without a second thought. 

A daring escape and a desperate rescue are only the beginning. Mysteries in Naomi’s past will collide with Justin’s secrets, and unraveling the plots that tie them together will lead to explosive consequences. 


Excerpt:


Making New Friends
an excerpt from Flight Plan by K. M. Herkes

Carl carried Justin to one of the benches, then retreated to the opposite side and hunched over to face the floor. His hands were so tightly clenched together that the knuckles were white.
Naomi considered questions and went with, “Is he okay?”
That one should pull Carl back from whatever emotional edge he was teetering on. Caregivers were predictable that way, and even if Carl had lied to her about everything else, Naomi was sure she hadn’t been wrong about that part of his story.. It took one to know one.
Carl sighed. “Okay is a relative concept with Justin. So is normal. What do you want from me? I’m busy licking my wounded ego here. If you can’t be grateful, can you be elsewhere?”
He couldn’t have picked a better way to hurt Naomi’s feelings if he’d tried. Selfish child, whispered the memory of Mam’s voice. Naomi’s throat went tight. She turned to leave, but when Justin moaned, concern made her hesitate. “Are you sure he’s okay?”
Carl sighed again, more heavily this time. “And he calls me nosy. Yes, I'm sure, but that won't satisfy you, will it? Go on, rub your curiosity bump until it stops itching.”
Since Carl wasn’t watching, Naomi stuck out her tongue at him before she knelt beside Justin. The man looked normal enough. He was broad-shouldered and wiry like a gymnast, on the short side of average height, with dark wavy hair and Caucasian features under sun-browned skin. The stubble on his throat was scratchy and thick, his skin was moist and hot, and his pulse thudded along fast and shallow.
Naomi checked for signs of injury. Justin's left leg was impaired severely enough that she would’ve suggested corrective surgery, not that anyone had asked her. The damage wasn’t recent, though, and the odd cuff on the man's ankle served no obvious purpose. It definitely wasn’t a splint.
She sat back on her heels.
“Unconscious with elevated pulse and fever doesn’t worry you?”
“Not yet. If he starts shivering, then I’ll panic.”
“Whatever.” She was hardly in a position to argue. She toyed with the odd splint-like device. “What’s this on his ankle? It isn’t rigid enough to be a brace. And it isn’t a bond cuff.” She knew what those looked like.
“Don’t touch—”
Carl’s warning came a little too late. Naomi fell back from the bench as its occupant abruptly disappeared. Her rump hit the floor, and a slight breeze warned her just before something landed on her feet. Static tickled her legs.
Invisible Justin cursed the whole way to the rear of the cabin. A pocket door slid open to reveal bathroom fixtures and slammed shut again. Naomi looked back. “A relative concept, you said,” she said, fighting down giggles. “That’s what you meant? That’s his normal?”
“I did warn you,” Carl said mildly.


Get it quick! It's now on sale for 99 cents on amazon!
Get it here...



Bio:

I write, I grow things, I camp and hike, I pacify cats, and I do a lot of research online and off. If our assorted alphabet-soup national security agencies really do monitor citizens based on keyword searches, then I'm probably on all of the criminal watch lists in existence. 

Otherwise, I am mostly quiet with a thirty-percent chance of loud, and the rest is subject to change without warning. Professional development has included classroom teaching, animal training, aquaculture, horticulture, retail management, inventory operations, and customer service. Personal development is ongoing.


Interview:

1. An alternative future techno-thriller? This sounds really interesting. What made you decide on this genre? Elements of Sci-Fi and Fantasy and little bit of other genres as well. What books influenced you growing up?

The genre picked me. I literally teethed on science fiction; my dad’s copy of Cities in Flight has incriminating incisor marks in the cover. It’s possible that Curious George Gets a Medal (in which he orbits the earth and comes back) was my first reading experience, and the hook was well and firmly set once I read Andre Norton’s Moon of Three Rings. I was nine. Narnia and the Lord of the Rings came soon after, but so did Bradbury, Heinlein, Dickson, LeGuin, Asimov, Clarke, Vonnegut, Herbert, Sturgeon, Simak…my generation was never promised flying cars.We were promised a bleak, polluted, corporate-driven future.
Influences are influenced by availability. The Pern books and Star Wars were my adolescent addictions. If I’d been born later I would’ve been all over Tamora Pierce, the Warriors books, Pamela C Dean, and J. K. Rowling, and I’d probably have built a fantasy world first.

2. I notice many of your books have A Story of the Restoration in the title. Are they stand alone books? What is the Restoration and how do you have the books organized?

I wrote all of them to be stand-alones, but some stand better than others. Like any series, later novels will reveal plot elements from earlier ones. Novices, Controlled Descent, and Turning the Work are all excellent introductions. They’re distinct in tone; Turning the Work took a romance slant, Controlled Descent is techno-adventure, and Novices has coming-of-age story elements.
The full chronology currently goes like this:

Novices
Controlled Descent
Turning the Work
Flight Plan
Joining in the Round

Controlled Descent, Flight Plan and an as-yet unwritten novel (title: Safe Landing) will eventually make a trilogy with TtW and JItR sandwiched between the trio like romantic meat in a double-decker techno-adventure bun.

3. Tell us about your publishing experience. Did you look for an agent or publisher or did you decide to self publish? How have things worked out for you so far?

I did not attempt a traditional query process. Writing can be an art form, but publication is a business. The book industry is flooded. Big legitimate publishers are both drowning in submissions and floundering financially. Small presses are hard to tell apart from predatory ones. They’re all looking for things I don’t have to offer.

I chose to write stories that lack “page-turning appeal” and have no readily-identifiable genre market. Yes, chose. With a lot of groundwork, professional networking and rep-building through short story submissions, I might have eventually attracted an agent or publisher. Or not. Instead I put my work onto the market independently and immediately. That gave me an excuse to study fields I wanted to learn or review-- graphics, layout, formatting, blurb-writing etc -- instead of drudging through weeks of publisher research and exercising my weak synopsis- and query-writing skills.

I’ve blogged extensively about my decision-making process, and I don’t promote independent publishing as the One True Way. It worked best for my initial goal: to find out if my words would appeal to anyone else. The answer has been a resounding and heartening yes. Next goal: more readers.

4. What are you currently working on?

I’m wrapping up another short book for my Restoration Stories collection. Story ideas don’t come to me in chronological order. This one will follow Novices, and it will eventually be a prequel trilogy. It gets complicated because I’ve written the third prequel book before the second. I haven’t decided yet whether to publish it or just shelve it for a year or so.

I’m also prepping the next short in my Rough Passages series. Lockdown will release in October. And because I always have ideas, I’m tinkering with a follow-up for the prize-winning story published in DevilFish Review. It has a title: Alexis Hightop and the Gargoyle Tea Party. The plot is simmering in my head.

5. What have you learned since you became an author that you wished you knew first starting out?

I’ve learned hundreds of things since starting down the independent publishing rabbit path, but I can’t think of a single one I wish I’d known beforehand. If I’d known then how much time and mental energy authoring sucks up, I might’ve made a different decision. I might’ve lost my nerve and decided to not publish after all. And I’m happy I did, so it’s all working out for the best.

6. For those reading about your book today, what can you say to them to convince them to give your book a try?

Trying a new author is a leap of faith. I get that. Don’t listen to me yelling, “Jump!” Trust the readers who have gone before you. Read the reviews. Read the samples to dip your toes in the story, but then...then I say, just dive in and float happily from beginning to end.

Good stories are about stepping into a different world and leaving this one behind. They’re about meeting people you wish were real and who make you care passionately about their fates. My stories will give you all that and more. Are they science fiction? Fantasy? Both, maybe. Or neither. They’re definitely worth your time.


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Monday, September 21, 2015

Kirby Howell: Author Interview & Spotlight


Please welcome to the blog author team Kirby Howell, authors of Autumn in the City of Angels.


Book Blurb

The first book in the Autumn Series, Autumn in the City of Angels, follows 17-year-old Autumn Winters after an apocalyptic plague wipes out almost all of Earth’s population. Alone in what’s left of Los Angeles, Autumn must learn how to care for herself in this drastically altered world. Finding food and clean water, securing electricity and safety, and deciding who is trustworthy and who is dangerous becomes her day-to-day fight for survival.
Among Autumn's newfound friends are siblings Ben and Rissi, motherly Connie, and mysterious Grey, a young man much wiser than his 18 years and harboring an unearthly secret.
The 1st book in the Autumn Series has accumulated several accolades, including being a 2014 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist, a 2014 Kindle Book Review Award Semi-Finalist and an honorable mention in the 2014 Beach Book Festival.

Excerpt:

I sat on the kitchen floor, aware of the hours passing and the shifting light as the sun rose. I waited to hear my dad’s key in the door. But he never came home, and my mother didn’t call back. The texts from Sarah stopped by morning, too.
A rock formed in my stomach, a heavy, dense rock of truth. My parents weren’t coming home. I stared at the creamy Los Angeles morning sky and was too stunned to even react to the morbid knowledge of their fate. I was alone inside what was left of this city. The last fifteen hours had changed my life forever.
I used to be Autumn Winters, daughter of an actress and an architect. I had been one of three living in this home, but now I was just Autumn Winters, and I was alone.

Complete First Chapter Excerpts can be found HERE

Buy on Amazon



Bio:

Dana Melton and Jessica Alexander, who write under the name Kirby Howell, have been writing together since 2000 when they met as freshman in their first scriptwriting class at the University of Alabama. Dana, a native Southerner, quickly showed Jessica the ropes and the joys of living below the Mason Dixon Line. Having lived in nearly every other part of the country, it didn't take Jessica long to acclimate to sweet tea, grits, and football. They both now live in Los Angeles with their husbands, and work in the television industry.

Interview:



1. I'm interested in understanding how your author team works. do you kick around ideas, take turns writing chapters, edit each other's work? Can you explain the process?
Writing a book is complicated enough when just one person is writing it! When you get two people involved, things get hairy! We stay organized by keeping in constant communication about what we’re working on. This helps avoid 99% of potential problems. We email, IM, Skype, call, text (whatever!) if we’ve created a new character, changed any major (or minor!) points that could cause story threads to unravel, uncovered a major plot hole, or if we’ve just had a breakthrough and need a well-deserved pat on the back.
We depend heavily on outlines when we’re doing the initial first draft. We work on creating the outline together, usually in person. This comes after a couple weeks of daydreaming the original nugget idea into a plump, rich story with a beginning, middle, and end. Once the outline is as detailed as we can get it, we divide it up into chapters and start divvying up the sections. Dana tends to take the plot and dialogue-heavy scenes and Jessica takes the more descriptive, thinking-heavy-thoughts scenes. Working off the outline affords us the ability to know what the bones are in each section, including the ones we aren’t writing.
Once we stitch Frankenstein’s Monster back together, so all of the chapters are in one document, we load it onto our Kindles and give the entire thing a read-through. There are, of course, inconsistencies and some overlaps, but those are easily fixed. We discuss the manuscript as a whole and identify any (small or large) edits we want to make, then we tackle rewrites!

Dana rewrites Jessica’s sections, and Jessica rewrites Dana’s sections. This helps blend our voices into one, though after 15 years of writing together, our voices have become so close in pitch and style, it’s hard to tell one from the other.
After these rewrites, we start our Beta process! We send a couple chapters at a time to our Beta Readers along with a questionnaire.
Once this is done, we do more rewrites.
Then, we send the manuscript to our editor!
Then we do more rewrites.
And so on and so forth. ;)

2. You guys must share some common interests in reading as well. What books or authors do you have in common and what made you decide to write in the Sci-Fi/dystopian genre?

Dana: I’ve been reading scifi for as long as I can remember. I actually recall being perhaps in Kindergarten, curled into my Mom’s arms with the novelization of Star Wars. I was learning phonics and had grown up seeing the original trilogy. And I remember the sheer bliss it was when I sounded out the word “Chewbacca.” I was as proud of myself as my mother was! Over the next 15 years, I read everything I could in that genre. I read the YA stuff by Heinlein, tons of Star Wars books and everything by Douglas Adams. By college I started branching out a little more and became a fan of the classics as well, people like Jane Austen, Margaret Mitchell, Emily Bronte and T. H. White. And in more recent years, I’ve been reading a lot of deliciously geeky stuff by folks like George R. R. Martin and Ernest Cline.
Because we’re not only writing/business partners, but also best friends, a lot of our reading tends to overlap. If I’m in love with a book, I can’t help but gush about it to Jessica and vice versa. I remember when she was first reading Outlander years ago. She called me up and told me I MUST read this book… right now. So I did! And I loved it! It was the same when I recommended 11/22/63 and Ready Player One to her! It’s also been really fun for me watching her swim in the deep end of the scifi pool. In college I kinda started her in the kiddie pool, but these days, sometimes she’ll find a book in the genre before I do and send me a recommendation!
Jessica: I didn’t really get into scifi until college, when I met Dana, and then I discovered that I loved it! Before, I enjoyed mostly historical fiction. My favorite author in high school was John Jakes (“the godfather of historical novelists”), who wrote The Kent Family Chronicles and The North & South Series. When I was younger, a Roald Dahl book could always be found not too far from me.

Right now, I’m discovering that I love journey books – where the main character goes on a physical (and emotional/mental) journal. I love when maps are involved. I loved Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, Death Walk by Walt Morey, and most recently Wild by Cheryl Strayed. The fact that journey books are a ‘thing’ came to my attention when I saw this interactive map on Paste.com: http://bit.ly/1IUbj5W. This bodes well for us because our next young adult series, The Wayfarer, involves a physical journey! (“Wayfarer” means “a person who travels on foot.”)

I don’t think we ever decided to write in the scifi genre – it’s what came naturally to us! The dystopian trend over the past 8 years has been both a blessing and a curse to us because we started writing the Autumn Series (which is technically in the apocalyptic genre) when The Hunger Games was only starting to gain popularity after the vampire trend lit the literary world on fire. It helped that there was a hunger for books in the ‘familiar world changed forever’ genre, though we were (and still are) afraid our Autumn books will get lost in the sea of dystopian books. 

3. Is there a third book coming? What other writing projects are you working on?
The third book in the Autumn Series, Autumn in the City of Lights, is available on Amazon. We’re equally sad and excited to have completed Autumn’s story. Now that this series is complete, we’ll pick up where we left off on The Wayfarer.

The Wayfarer will be a trilogy of young adult fantasy books following a teenage girl lost in the Central California foster system. When she has a particularly frightening run in with some bullies at school, she runs away and unknowingly stumbles through a passageway to a land called Providence. She comes to find out that this place is what we know of as Limbo – the place between life and the afterlife. She begins searching for the one person who she believes might still be there, waiting for her, and can make everything in her life right again.

4. Tell us about your publishing experience. Did you try to find an agent or publisher first, or did you always intend to self-publish?

We actually had a literary agent and a publisher, however we ended up breaking ties with both parties in order to publish The Autumn Series the way we wanted to. We both come from very entrepreneurial families, and we were taught at a young age that if you didn’t know how to do something, you dig in and figure it out yourself. Research, interview, read, experiment, get lost, destroy, start over, FINISH.
We wanted Autumn to be able to compete with traditionally published books, so we treated the manuscript the way (we hoped) a publisher would. We hired a professional editor, proofreader, cover artist, and photographer. Dana, the computer whiz, taught herself how to code the manuscript for Kindle, and Jessica learned how to format for paperback. We experimented with social media, online and print marketing strategies, and even threw a book launch party, which over 100 people attended.
It takes a lot of time, effort, and some tears, but in the end, we have a product that we’re proud of.

5. What have you learned since you first published that you wished you knew when you first started out?
Dana: Don’t get overwhelmed with having to learn how to be a publisher, a formatter, a marketer, etc… Just take it one step at a time, do your homework and get to work. It’ll all be okay.

Jessica: Try not to let bad reviews bother you. Though they tend to stick to you like bubblegum caught in your hair, read ‘em and forget ‘em. Move on. Read a good review. Read the bad reviews of an award-winning book of your favorite author ever – this will even the playing field and remind you it’s all subjective. Opinions are like armpits – everyone’s got ‘em. 

Follow Kirby Howell at these places:










Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New Release: A Chance of Rain by Sonnet O'Dell



Sonnet O'Dell is one of my Facebook and Twitter friends and also a fellow Eternal Press author. She has written a lot of books but this is her first self-published effort.  I got my copy last night and I hope you will buy one as well. I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

Get it here
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Agent Nicholas Grafton has a plan. To use a convicted criminal to catch other criminals and he thinks he’s chosen the perfect candidate. 

Cera Raine went to prison for the murder of her father. Intelligent, beautiful and resourceful, Cera could have done it but claims she didn’t. Intrigued by Grafton’s proposal she takes it, even with its condition – that she wear a bomb around her neck. Once out, she will do whatever she has to, to get him to trust her, even take down a drug operation plaguing the streets of Central City. 



Monday, September 14, 2015

Jessica Wren: Author Interview & Spotlight


This week I am happy to feature Jessica Wren, author of Ice.  Many of you know Jessica from Author Promo Co-op where she is co-founder.  Jessica spends a lot of her time promoting Indie and Small Press authors like me, helping to get the word out on out books.  It's nice to be able to return the favor.

Blurb:


The residents of Minterville, Georgia (the "Mints") have always relied on The Minter for unity and security. When The Minter, a form of telepathy by which the Mints intercommunicate, goes silent, the Mints are frightened, as silence on The Minter is a signal that there is evil present in the town. 

Their suspicious focus on two sinister families who'd moved into town six months prior. On Friday morning, the Mints learn that their fears were justified: twenty women go missing, and it doesn't take long to discover that the families were sent by Manuela Escribano (aka the Ice Queen) to settle a decades-old score with a town resident. Now, the Mints need to put aside their feelings of hurt and betrayal to locate and rescue the missing women before time runs out.

Excerpt:

I excused myself to call Uncle Andy. He would be the first to know that four people were 
missing. Certainly, Joey would report his mother and fiancĂ©e missing. Mr. Tom had not yet 
called about Mrs. Carolyn.

I dreaded telling Uncle Andy that Stephanie had not shown up for class, especially after 
seeing her with Cierra.

When I asked Robbie if I could borrow his cell phone to make the call, he snapped. Like an 
overinflated balloon that finally pops if you blow in too much air, Robbie’s tension level 
reached a breaking point. He got out of his seat and bolted out of the room. Everyone in the 
classroom, including Mr. Chan, stopped and watched in shock. Tommy and I followed him 
out. Robbie made it no further than ten feet outside the classroom when he collapsed.

“Stephanie! Mom! Stephanie!” Robbie sputtered in hysterical agitation.

“And where the hell is Carolyn?” Tommy wondered.

“And Jackie,” I added.

Robbie briefly recovered enough sanity to hand me his cell phone. I do not own a cell phone; 
they are so useless in Minterville that I see no point in paying the monthly bill. I spotted Logan 
Canfield and Tate Shields, two ninth-graders, down the hall. I noticed that Logan was also 
talking on his cell phone, and Tate was looking at him worriedly, as if expecting news. I 
motioned for them to join us.

“Do either of you have any idea what’s happening?” I asked. “The whole town’s gone to 
hell.”

“I know,” Tate said. “My aunt’s gone.”

“Your aunt Carrie?” I asked.

“Yeah, and also Logan’s grandma and Sarita.”

Carrie Shields was the mail carrier in Minterville. Linda Canfield suffered from late-stage 
Alzheimer’s disease, and Sarita Velasquez, a silent, almost unfriendly nurse’s aide in her late 
twenties, was Mrs. Linda’s caregiver.

“Okay!” Tommy tried to take control of the situation. He looked so much like his father that it 
was not hard to picture him as the future mayor. If Tommy did ever decide to run, he would 
have a fierce opponent in Shay Holmes-Carter, the elder daughter of Walter and Francine 
Holmes. Shay made no secret that she had her eye on Mr. Tom’s chair. “Does anyone have 
any clues?”

“Not a thing,” I stated as we looked at each other apprehensively. “But to start with, where is 
everyone supposed to be?”

“Well, let’s see,” Tommy began. “Jackie would be at home. Mrs. Barbara would be in Eden 
II. Mrs. Carolyn would be at the jewelry shop.”

“Aunt Carrie would be at the post office,” Tate added.

“Sarita was supposed to take Grandma to an early morning appointment at the clinic today,” 
Logan said. There was no clear connection between any of them.

Stephanie should be here. Clearly, that’s what everyone was thinking, but for Robbie’s sake, 
no one stated the obvious. Playing junior detective was going to be a waste of time, so I 
started to call Uncle Andy at the police station. Before I could finish dialing the numbers, 

Robbie cracked under the tension again.

“Stephanie!” Robbie yelled as he bolted for the exit. For the next ten seconds, the rest of us 
were too stunned to move.

Finally, Tate said, “Wow, he’s really in love with her.”

We ran off after Robbie, and caught up with him in the parking lot of Seymour’s Grocery 
Store, about a block away from the school. He was not in the best shape, and sprinting at full 
speed from the school to the grocery store gave him shortness of breath and a stitch in his 
side that forced him to stop and rest. Several customers in the parking lot, who were 
undoubtedly wondering why the five of us were out of school at that hour, gave us quizzical 
looks.  Leonard Seymour, the proprietor, came outside, wondering why there was a 
commotion in his parking lot.

“Mr. Leonard,” Robbie said in a panic-stricken voice, “something bad is happening. My 
mom is not in the garden. Jackie’s missing. Mrs. Carolyn’s not at the shop, and Mrs. Linda-,” 
his vocal cords, paralyzed by terror, stopped functioning midsentence.

“Ginger Wells,” Mr. Leonard said, suddenly wide-eyed with alarm. “She didn’t show up this 
morning, and she’s always so dependable. She didn’t even call in. What’s going on?”

“We don’t know, but there are some people missing. All women,” I told him, struggling to 
keep my composure. It occurred to me a few seconds earlier that everyone who was missing 
was a woman. That could not possibly be a coincidence. Remembering that I still had 

Robbie’s cell phone, I finally made that call to Uncle Andy at the station.  
“Uncle Andy, something’s going on,” I began.

“I know that, son. We have an emergency. I can’t talk now. Why aren’t you in school?” 
Uncle Andy said irritably.

“Uncle Andy, there are women missing.”

“I’m aware of that, Elliot. Get back to--Wait! Elliot, who all is missing that you know about?” 

It was clear that a major catastrophe was unfolding.

 “Barbara Jenkins, Carolyn Holcomb, Jackie Stein, Linda Canfield, Sarita Velasquez, Carrie 
Shields, and possibly Ginger Wells,” I told him.

“Kira Holmes, Tuyen Lam, and Mary O’Brien are also missing. And now Cynthia Harrison 
just walked in, so either Dawn, Courtney, or both,” he told me. I could hear the feeling of 
helplessness in my uncle’s voice. The sense of dread in me was growing exponentially.

“Uncle Andy, I think I should come to the station,” I said hesitantly.

“Why? Is there something else?” Uncle Andy was frantic.

“Did you talk to Mom and Aunt Jill?” I asked evasively.

“Yes, they’re still at the house,” Uncle Andy probed further. “Elliot, is there something else I 
need to know?”

It was time to deliver the bad news. I would not have been able to avoid doing so for too 
much longer.


“Yes,” I said quietly. “Stephanie is also missing.”

Buy your copy of Ice here:

Amazon




Bio:

Jessica Wren is a mystery/thriller writer. Her debut novel Ice was published September 30 2014. Ice is a psychological thriller with a touch of supernatural. She is from Georgia, where she lives with her husband, Patrick, and her daughter, Rachel. She is the co-founder of Author Promo Co-op, a group dedicated to cross-promotion and networking for indie authors (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1605983442956270/ and/or https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/153603-author-promo-co-op)

Interview:

1. I know you do a lot of work supporting authors with the Author Promo Co-op and I see your promos of other authors all the time. We really appreciate your support. My question is, where do you find the time to do all that? Are you still writing as well?

The short answer is insomnia LOL. In all seriousness, I truly enjoy the networking and cross-promotion that Goes on in APC (and in #IndieBooksBeSeen). It pleases me that so many authors are dedicated to helping each other. I've noticed the trend of posting author features is IBBS and APC is starting to catch on, which is awesome and makes sharing (not to mention finding a great read) a lot easier. One can always find time to do something he/she loves. When I go back to work in August (I'm a teacher), I won't have as much time, but I will continue to do all I can. As of this email, I am about ten chapters away from completing the rough draft of my second novel, a crime thriller called Earth, which is about the Mob in a small Florida town. I've actually left APC in the hands of the co-mods so I can get the roughy draft done by the time school starts. And your support (via blog-featuring) is appreciated as well. 

2. You have a lot of positive reviews of ICE.  The page length is an unusual one and seems to have drawn a lot of comments. It's way too long to be a short story and a little short for a full length novel but at that length a very good by at just 99 cents. Would you describe it as a long novella?

The response to ICE has been mixed. It has mostly positive reviews but a lot of contrasting feedback. I am grateful for everyone who has taken the time to read and provide feedback (even if it's critical). The only way to become a better writer is to pay attention to readers and see if there is anything you can learn from each review. A few issues have come up many times (one of which is that many readers are finding it hard to keep up with the characters. This is a fair critique, seeing as how I pretty much make everyone in town a main character). This lets me know what I need to do better. Based on the feedback I got on ICE (which thankfully, as you mentioned, most readers liked), I am choosing a different narration technique for Earth and spending more time on character development. I think Earth is going to be twice the length of ICE, which actually started off as a short story that I had planned to enter into a Halloween-themed contest. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline, but the plot just grew in my head until it turned into a novella. So, yes, I think long novella accurately describes it; it doesn't quite meet the word requirement to be officially called a novel. 


3. What books influenced you growing up? What led you to writing and choosing paranormal mystery as the genre of your first book?

Stephen King is my literary hero. I've read pretty much everything he has written, except for his newer releases. Since publishing, I have read mostly indie books. By the way, I have to disagree with anyone who says indie books aren't up to par with traditionally published books. That's not what I'm seeing. I have reviewed around 50-60 indie books since last September, and while quality varies, most of what I'm seeing is just as good, if not better, than trad books. Indies are taking their work seriously and behaving like professional writers. Plus, I actually prefer indie now because the books tend to be multi-genre and (something extremely important) in the writer's own voice. I know I got off topic, but I am a major advocate for giving indie books a try. If something isn't up to quality, try a few more. As I said, the vast majority of indies take their work seriously and strive to produce the best quality they can. But back to your question: Stephen King has been my biggest influence, and while in college, I also became interested in the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (ICE is loosely based on One Hundred Years Of Solitude), Isabel Allende, and Laura Esquival, which is why I decided to experiment with magical realism. I was reading The Hunger Games series while writing the rough draft to ICE, so I can also thank Suzanne Collins for her inspiration. As for my choice of genre, it's more magical realism than paranormal; the supernatural elements (which have received mixed reviews) are mainly symbolic and not intended to be major plot devices. Earth will be a crime thriller/romance combination with no paranormal elements. I don't intend to give up magical realism-a sequel to ICE is in the works-but I like experimenting with genre combinations.

4. What have you learned since publishing your first book that you wish you knew beforehand?

I have learned that, like any profession, networking with colleagues is a must. One of the first thing I heard was 'market to readers.' Ok, but readers don't come in neat little groups to market to. I consider everyone, including fellow writers, to be potential readers. I used to self-promote a lot at first (a stern lecture from someone who I shall decline to name here broke me of that) but I have since learned that cross-promotion is much more effective and less time-consuming. Another important lesson I learned is it is essential to avoid, at all costs, negative people. Hanging around with folks who seem to delight in bringing others down kills your motivation to write. I've learned to be a lot more selective about who I choose to associate with. A writer's group doesn't have to be sunshine, rainbows, and cupcakes to be a helpful, productive group. If the environment in a group is so hostile and toxic that productive discussion is impossible, it's time to leave. Additionally, I wished I'd read up more carefully on formatting; I honestly had no idea that it has to be formatted a certain way to show up properly on Kindle. There are many things I've learned along the way, but these top the list. Experience really is the best teacher..

5. You have already convinced me to buy your book. What can you say to other folks that are reading this that might convince them to do the same?

Why, thank you, and I hope you enjoy it :). As Rose has mentioned, ICE has been generally well-received, and I have been compared to Stephen King several times in reviews. If you are King fan, you'll likely enjoy ICE. It has also been described by several reviewers as 'different' so it's no cookie-cutter crime thriller. Most reviewers said, in one way or another, that the themes of community, hope, and redemption were their favorite parts of the book. I would urge anyone reading to be willing to take a chance on an indie novel. You may be in for an unexpected treat. Ice does contain scenes of graphic violence and some profanity (I feel it's only fair to warn potential readers), but it's not overdone. If you do choose to give ICE a try, I sincerely thank you. If crime novels aren't your thing, try other indie authors who write in your preferred genre. They are well worth it.

You can follow Jessica at these places:









Tuesday, September 8, 2015

2015 Dark Dreams Halloween Giveaway


And I am glad to be part of this. The participating authors have individual prizes to go along with that awesome grand prize. Here is mine...


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Monday, September 7, 2015

Angel M: Author Interview & Spotlight



Please welcome to my blog, Angel M, fantasy author of The Maze series.

The Keeper: The Maze Series: Book 1



The Keeper is the story of Gabriel, his inner voice, and how he became the newest keeper of the maze. On his adventure, Gabriel befriends a serial killer, dodges an arranged marriage, fights jaguar warriors, rediscovers his imaginary/childhood friend (aka, the voice), and finds his niche in life.

Excerpt:

Kieran stood in the doorway, his hell-depth eyes boring into mine. “Murder,” he repeated.

            Thunk! Yep! That would be the other shoe, the voice jittered. And may I point out how calmly he said that? As if we were discussing the weather.


Underwater City (The Maze Series Book 2)







Underwater City is the story of Ann who’s, less than graceful moments, are legendary. With her two friends reluctantly following, Ann immerses herself in the underwater life of Jeritza where she discovers she is not totally immune to grace. When battles ensue over territorial rights, the three newcomers do not hesitate to aid the city in order to protect their harmonious way of life. Amid the chaos, love blossoms, new friendships develop and old friends part ways in search of their own adventures in the maze.

Excerpt:

            Her eyes fell to the only article of clothing Jace had on and she smiled. “Do you know your shorts are on backwards?” she asked.

            He looked down at his shorts and then back to her. “Do you know the door is wearing your shirt?” he replied and they both began to laugh.

Buy Links:





Bio:
From story dabbler in the 1980’s to published Author as of July 2013, it only took me 46 years to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. In between my full-time job and family matters, I can be found tapping away at my computer, working on my next book. If not there, then I am promoting; The Keeper, Book 1 of The Maze Series and now; Underwater City, Book 2 of the Maze Series. Each book in this series will be a new adventure for a different cast of characters, so they do not have to be read in order.As a multi-genre Author, I will publishing a fictional comedy titled Pawper to Pedigree and a dark comedy titled Gold Dust, in the coming years.

Interview:


1. I noticed your first book is described as an Adventure, Suspense, Crime-fantasy. I am really fascinated by the fantasy part of this. Where does that come in?

The series is actually Adventure/Fantasy. I think the “crime” part is due to the fact that the bad guy in The Keeper, Book 1 is described as “best bud or budding serial killer”.
The fantasy part of the series involves the maze as it is the catalyst that sets each new adventure into motion. When a person, or group of people walk into the maze, they are sent off world on an adventure. This adventure is designed for a specific person or persons.
For example:
The Keeper is about Gabriel who loves adventure but doesn’t know where he fits in. He enters the maze and off he goes to hike on another world with cliff dwellings, rain forests, and caverns. Along the way he befriends Kieran who enjoys killing a little too much, escapes an arranged marriage, fights jaguar warriors, meets up with a group of Druids which provides a bit of laughter and magic, a water nymph who hates company, and by the end of the book Gabriel’s story comes full circle with him becoming the newest keeper of the maze.
Along on this adventure is the voice, which I have been known to describe as a cross between Jiminy Cricket and Dennis Leary, minus all the curse words. At least, this is the way I heard it in my mind when I wrote the book. The voice is a very different character and takes a little getting used to, but it has a purpose which you will discover by the end of this book, as well as later on in future books.
The Keeper is written in first person because it is Gabriel’s story. Future books will be written in third person.
Underwater City caters to Ann’s love of the sea. More calamity than Jane, Ann cannot walk down the street without falling over something, but in the water she has the grace of a dolphin. So, the maze sends her to a world comprised mostly of water with her two friends, Jace and Meridia, reluctantly following.
Jace is like a cat when it comes to water and Meridia is a nasty piece of work who never has anything good to say about anyone and thinks way too highly of herself. Unfortunately, Ann is a tender-hearted soul and Meridia’s only friend. Jace, flat-out, hates Meridia and it is fun to listen to them go at each other.
The sea life characters in this book are comically entertaining. There’s Hawk and Spit, to miniature cleaner shrimp who serve as Ann’s personal dental hygienists, Manny the moray eel who has a pattern of freckles on his head in the shape of a bunny that he is real sensitive about, but Jelly is by far my favorite and I’ll leave readers to experience him. The fast-paced harvest games help to feed the city’s residents while providing play time with the dolphins and is a popular sporting event with a unique arena.
Ann’s love interest is Ian, the aquamarine-eyed, hunk and leader of the Jeritzian people. The story behind their meeting adds a small bump to their relationship. You will understand this statement more, if you read the book. I can’t give everything away.
And, of course there are bad guys. Meet the Crustaceans: compact car sized lobsters and crabs who have come to negotiate (yeah, right) for a section of reef to destroy with their over-populated numbers and destructive behavior. They have zero respect for anyone or anything while the Jeritzian people nurture and replenish dying reefs.
Society rules are strict when it comes to population, the safety of the environment, and the people. Those who refuse to comply are cast out and eventually becomes human slaves to the Crustaceans.
Ann’s adventure comes full circle in the end while Jace and Meridia find adventures of their own in books to follow.

2. What books/authors influenced you growing up?

My high school literature teacher assigned The Hobbit and it hooked me right away. I really did not care much for reading prior to that, but it only takes one special book to pull you in. Of course I read the series then The Sword of Shannara. Love that Terry Brooks. Everything escaladed from there. Anne McCaffrey, Dragonlance Series, Forgotten Realms, David Eddings, I could go on forever.
Then I became an adult (HAH!) and got a job where I was able to listen to recorded books while I worked. This opened a whole new world to me. I, literally, have spreadsheets on Excel with authors and books that I have listened to over the past 24 years. I had to do this to keep from getting the same books over and over again. Now, I am sampling many genres and have just as many favorite authors that influence my writing every day. Janet Evanovich is my favorite. If I could be half as funny as her with my writing, I would be perfectly happy with that. Diana Gabaldon, Jeffrey Archer, Jennifer Crusie, Peter V. Brett, the list goes on.
I will confess that I only read fiction. Non-fiction holds no interest for me as I have little time between my full-time job and writing, and there are so many more fiction books I want to listen to.

3. Ten straight, perfect 5 star reviews. That's not something you see every day and I noticed many are verified purchase reviews. What's been your experience trying to get the word out on your books?

My experience has been very slow in coming. My books, word of mouth, and I were my only promotion for the first book. I was barely on Facebook, had no idea what Twitter was, no web page, new to all the stuff a cellphone could be used for and nobody to show me anything.
I am 52 years old, live in the country where the nearest big city is an hour drive north, east, and south; west is 3 hours and cell service is spotty in the foothills of the Appalachians. We live a simpler life here so none of my friends and family could introduce me to the world of technology and I did not have the financial resources to pay someone or take a class. So, I jumped in, feet first, arms flailing, while the voice inside my head screamed “are you crazy”.
Sometimes, that’s how you have to do it. You will make mistakes along the way, just own up to them and move on. I live for right now and the very near future. Anything outside of that spectrum, clutters my brain. I had to start somewhere or else I was never going to hold my book in my hands. I’m still making mistakes, but I’m learning.
My original goal was to write and publish a book. The first book was a financial disaster because I spent money on things I did not need, but it was a necessary learning experience. I’m doing the second book much smarter thanks to all the authors I have met along the way. Most self-published authors are great and eager to help with “how to” information. Use the free help without over-taking advantage. You still have to do the work, but an arrow in the right direction will get you started. Then share your knowledge with the next newbie.
I was happily surprised at the 5 star reviews and that my writing was able to pull in people who would not normally read this kind of fiction.
Social networking is great. I met my cover guy, Jamie Noble, for Underwater City on Twitter, I have personal, author, and series pages on facebook, I am on Goodreads, and this will be my second online/blog interview. Not sure I used the right terminology there, but I’m still learning.
The downside to social networking is the amount of time it consumes and I find a lot of it confusing. However, everything has a learning curve. If it takes 6 months to fully understand one small aspect, then I can check that one off the list.

4. I notice your first book looks like it was published through a publisher and the next one is not.  Tell us about your experience with the publishing side of things.

I began with the usual query, synopsis, sample chapter emails and 4 years ago, some agents and publishers were still on snail mail. It’s crazy how quickly the process changes. I sent out over 80 queries and got back over 60 rejection letters. However, not one of them said “don’t quit your day job”. They were actually quite pleasant and encouraging, so I saw this as a good sign. The worst one I received said, “Not for me, but thanks anyway”. Not bad, I thought. So I started looking at self-publishing.
The Keeper was self-published through Abbott Press. I had heard about Createspace, but was so new to publishing that I ended up paying to have my first book published. I learned a lot and am still very happy with the book they produced.
At the Toronto Festival of Arts I met Dave Core, local self-published author, and we got together at the Toronto Library where he showed me Createspace. When it came time to publish Underwater City I emailed Jamie around the end of May 2015 about the cover, he said he could do it now, and armed with the information Dave gave me about Createspace, I figured, “what the heck”. Jumped in.
Everything went so quickly, I’m still in a daze. Within the past year, I joined IndieBooksBeSeen and they put out a fantastic catalogue of indie authors, then Fox Echo Books offered to do an online interview, you (Rose) at Fantasy Fun Reads made a second wonderful offer, and Author Promo Co-op threw an online party for me (another first). I never would have been involved with any of this had it not been for social networking. Yes, it takes time away from writing, but well worth it.
I am pretty happy with my current social networking connections and doubt I will take on any more for some time. I need to get back to working on The Larpers, Book 3

5. What have you learned about being an author that you wished you knew first starting out?

Everything, but then learning the process is more beneficial. Plus, I’m not much on looking back.

6. Tell me three exciting things about your books that you want folks to know about.

The Maze Series books do not have to be read in order because each adventure wraps up for the main character by the end. Secondary characters may appear in books down the road, but their adventure will have little or nothing to do with previous appearances.
I write strictly for entertainment purposes. No deep thinking or hidden messages you have to ponder or figure out. If you feel like you had a good time while reading one of my books, then that is what I set out to do.
Since I tend to write whatever pops into my head, I am a multi-genre author. Future publications include Pawper to Pedigree a fictional comedy. Marnie owns a mobile dog grooming business and is a dog whisperer who helps clients sort out problems with their owners. Gold Dust a dark comedy. Ava gets even with her abusive husband with the aid of her best friend and a golden nugget with a curse.


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