Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Soulkeepers Now in Paperback

The Soulkeepers is now available in paperback.  For all of you who still enjoy the feel of paper in your hands, you can order a copy at Amazon.com.

Also, please don't forget to enter the launch contest.

Thank you to all of my readers and for your ongoing support!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Soulkeepers Launch Contest

The official launch date of The Soulkeepers is here! To promote the book, I'm holding a random drawing to give away some prizes.


You may have noticed that music plays an important role in my writing routine. Check out the upper left corner of your screen and you'll see the playlist that fueled some of the scenes in The Soulkeepers.  So, I'm sweetening the pot with an iTunes gift card.**



First Prize: A custom autographed paperback of The Soulkeepers and $20 iTunes gift card (or your choice of alternate card of equal value).

Second Prize: A custom autographed paperback of The Soulkeepers

Third Prize:  A $5 gift card to your choice of iTunes, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

Entering couldn't be easier. Simply comment...

Over the last week, you've read the first chapters and learned details about The Soulkeepers. You've watched The Soulkeepers grab a spot on an Amazon Best-Seller list. All you have to do for a chance to win is comment on this post telling me why you want to read the book. Any reason will do.  For each comment, I will enter your name into the drawing.

Want to increase your chances of winning? 


After commenting here, promote this contest on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog and I will throw your name in again - up to three additional times. Please tag me in your Facebook posts,  use the #thesoulkeepers hashtag on twitter and/or place a link to your blog post in the comments.

BUT WAIT, you say.  I want to read the book now! If I purchase it or have already purchased it, can I still win?  YES!  Comment on why you purchased the eBook and you are eligible for the same prizes. Plus, if you read the book and offer a valid* review during the contest period on Goodreads, Amazon, and/or Barnes & Noble you are guaranteed a prize. I have a special first reader commemorative thank you, including a never before seen chapter of The Soulkeepers that was cut during editing for length.

(Be it known that this thank you is of token value, as I would never wish to be accused of buying reviews and I appreciate honest reviews.)

This contest will run for two weeks beginning March 21st, 2011 through midnight April 4th, 2011. Winners will be selected using random.org and be announced Wednesday April, 6th, 2011.  Good luck!

 The very important small print
*Valid means that the content of the review appears to be based on an actual reading and thoughtful analysis of the book and that the review meets the guidelines of Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

**This contest is limited to entrants in the United States and Canada.  Sorry, but shipping is cost prohibitive beyond that.  If you live in a country serviced by Amazon.com (like the UK), you may enter but if you win the prize, you will be gifted the cost of the paperback (unsigned) and the value of the iTunes card if you are unable to access iTunes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Soulkeepers Chapter Three


 The Memory

J
acob lands in a crouch, knee deep in ferns and bromeliads, shoulder to shoulder with bamboo. Wet leaves brush against his arms and legs as he turns in a circle. There is no path here but he's familiar with the trees. He is sure he’s been here before.
Dark clouds roll in overhead, faster than in real life, and the forest grows dim under their ominous bellies. Panic swells in his chest. Jacob launches himself into the forest. He darts through the trees, casting frantic looks over his shoulder.
Up ahead, the forest opens and Jacob watches a car climb a gravel roadway. It is his mother’s. The faded blue Toyota Celica is unmistakable. From the driver's seat, she emerges but she is not the woman Jacob remembers arguing with that morning. He has never seen this Lillian Lau, a strong soldier of a woman in a long sleeved black t-shirt and military pants. The hilt of a knife glints from a sheath on her leg. Her jet-black hair is swept up into a ponytail and her almond eyes are deadly serious. She is staring in the opposite direction, frowning at a particularly dark stretch of forest. She reaches across her body and draws a gun from a holster under her arm.
"MOM!"
"Jacob?" She turns toward him. Her face pales. Her eyes grow wide with terror. "Run, Jacob! RUN!" she yells and that's when he notices it behind her. At first he can't actually see it but he can feel it. He can smell it—sulfur and something sweet. And although he doesn't know exactly what it is, he hates it with every fiber of his being.
"Behind you," he calls out. She moves to the front of the car and points her gun at the darkness that emerges from the trees, flowing forward like oil in water. It is a horrific abomination—scaly black skin, enormous leathery wings and yellow eyes that lock on his mother. It's the sight of its talons that makes him run faster.
Crack. Crack. Bullets fly from the gun but the creature melts into the thick ripple it was when it oozed from the woods. It shifts right and his mom's eyes track it until it disappears again. Without lowering her gun, she feels for the knife on her leg. Jacob reaches the car.
"GET. IN. NOW," she commands.
He obeys, sliding in behind the steering wheel. That's when he realizes the car is still running. The keys dangle from the ignition.
Never taking her eyes off the woods, she backs toward the passenger side door. He thinks she will crawl in next to him and they will escape whatever this is.
Lightning-quick talons rip across her chest. Jacob screams as blood sprays the window… his mother's blood. Somehow, she is able to sink the knife into the shoulder of the beast before she drops. The creature backs away from her body with an ethereal howl that makes Jacob's hair stand on end.
It rears back in pain, placing itself in front of the vehicle. On instinct, Jacob slams the Toyota into drive and pounds on the accelerator. The hood crumples accordion style as he collides with the thing. He sees a flash of blood on glass...his blood.
And then there is nothing but the tunnel, the light, and the man in the green mask.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What makes The Soulkeepers different?

The Soulkeepers is different from any YA paranormal you've ever read.  Aside from the reasons I mentioned in Tuesday's post, several other factors set it apart.  For one, my main character is a boy.  He's also Chinese-American and his girlfriend is East Indian.  If you took all of the books on the YA market, sorted out the ones with a female main character, then sorted out those with a caucasian main character, you would get a very short stack.

Beyond the main characters, I chose to write The Soulkeepers in third person so I could capture multiple points of view.  This allows the story to unfold somewhat like a mystery or thriller, genres that are sorely underrepresented in YA.  From the short stack, weed out any that are written in first person.

Are there any left?

If there are, I bet you can carry them in one arm.

What makes my book similar to others published in this genre is that it is engaging, accessible, and loaded with page-turning tension.  I hope you will give The Soulkeepers a try.  Sample it now on Kindle or Nook (links on the right).  I'll be posting chapter three tomorrow, then more to come on my launch contest.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Soulkeepers Chapter Two

2

 The Uncle Who Wasn't

T
he sound of footsteps woke Jacob in his hospital bed. He was annoyed that the nurses kept waking him up. All he wanted to do was sleep, but as it turned out hospitals were not a good place to rest.
Without opening his eyes, he said, "I'm not hungry and I don’t need another pain pill."
A gruff voice answered him from the side of the bed. "That's good because I don't have either of those things."
Jacob's lids flipped open. A stranger sat in the uncomfortable looking chair next to his hospital bed, the pads of his fingers pressed together under his chin.
"Who are you?" Jacob asked.
"I'm your uncle John. John Laudner," the man said. He leaned forward and extended a calloused palm.
Jacob did not take the man's hand. "You've made a mistake. I don't have an uncle and my last name isn't Laudner. It's Lau."
The man pursed his lips, his green eyes shifting to the hospital floor. He sat back in his chair, opening his mouth as if to say something and then closing it again. At last he lowered his hands, linking them at his waist. "There's no easy way to tell you this, Jacob. I am your uncle. I am the brother of Charles Lau, formerly known as Charlie Laudner. Your father changed his name before you were born."
Jacob licked his parched lips and reached for the cup of water the nurse had left him. He sucked greedily on the straw before speaking. "I've never even heard of you."
"It's a long story. You lived far away. After your father died, well, it never seemed like the right time to introduce myself."
"So why are you here now?"
"Jacob, do you remember anything about the accident?"
Jacob closed his eyes. The truth was his brain did have an explanation for what had happened, but it was ludicrous. The memory was so far-fetched he could only believe his imagination had stitched it together to fill in the gaps. "No. I told the doctors, the last thing I remember was fighting with my mom that morning in our apartment. I don't even remember getting into the car with her."
"She's missing, Jacob."
"Missing?" he said, sitting up in bed despite the pain. "But she must've been in the car with me. How could they have rescued me and not her?"
 "You were inside the car when they found it. She wasn't. "
"But that doesn't make any sense."
"Your blood was on the inside of the car, Jacob. Hers was on the outside."
She'd had a gun. She'd been standing next to the door. He shook his head, ignoring the thought. It was a false memory, brought on by emotional and physical trauma. What had the doctor called it? Auditory and visual hallucinations: the brain's way of making sense of the damage it incurred when his skull collided with the windshield.
"How is that possible?"
"They think, maybe, you were driving."
"I don't have a driver's license."
John stood up and approached the bed. He unsnapped the arm of the hospital gown Jacob was wearing, pulling it down slightly. Then, he tipped up the hideaway mirror on the overbed table. The bruise that arced across Jacob's chest looked like the top half of a large circle…or a steering wheel. He traced the edge with his finger, a rainbow of purple hued skin. A chill ran up his spine.
"Did I hit her?"
John returned the thin fabric to its place. "The police don't think so, Jacob. Her blood was on the passenger side door, not the hood of the car. You were found in a heavily wooded area of Manoa Falls. It's only a few miles from your apartment. They think, after the accident, your mom got out of the car to get help."
You'd followed her there. You'd had a fight and you wanted to apologize.
"I don't remember," Jacob said, but a more truthful answer would have been that the memory he had couldn't be real. It was nonsense.
"It's normal that you don't. The doc says people often block out extreme circumstances. It's your brain's way of protecting you from reliving the trauma."
"And then what? Where did she go?"
John's face contorted. His voice strained with emotion when he answered. "There have been abductions in the area. Nine women went missing in the last year, six were found dead. Murdered. There were signs of a struggle where they found you."
Jacob's blood froze in his veins. "Are you saying, my mom might have been abducted, or worse, killed?"
"They don't know for sure. I'm sorry, Jacob."
A tear slid down his cheek and he wiped it away with his bare hand. It had been a long time since he'd allowed himself to cry and he wasn't about to start now. He'd survived by following two very important rules: don't feel anything and don't expect anything from anyone. To distract himself, he concentrated on the specifics of what happened. Why in the world would he have driven his mother's car?
The creature was coming for you. Your mom tried to fight it. He ignored the rogue thought. "What did I hit anyway?"
John repositioned himself in his chair and folded his arms across his chest. "Nobody knows, Jacob. The front of the car is damaged like you hit a tree or something, but they found the Toyota in the middle of the road. There wasn't anything in front of the car. They were hoping you could remember because no one has any idea what could've happened. They thought maybe the damage occurred earlier and then you drove to the scene…but the car isn't operational and your wounds were fresh when they found you. "
"What happens now? Are they going to search for her?"
"Yes. There's already a group combing through Manoa Falls."
"I want to help." Only the irritating tug of Jacob's IV kept him from bounding out of bed.
"There's nothing you can do, Jacob. The doctor says you'll be in here for another week and then…"
"And then what?"
"The social worker says you need to come home with me."
"With you? I don't even know you."
"I am your nearest kin."
"Where do you even live?"
"Paris."
"Paris…France?"
"No, a different Paris. Paris, Illinois. You have an Aunt Carolyn and a cousin, Katrina. They're waiting for us at home."
Home. The word annoyed Jacob. When he heard the word home, he thought of his apartment and the house he'd lived in before his dad died. He thought of how the smell of his favorite adobo chicken would fill the kitchen when his mom made it. He saw the faces of his mother and his father, bound to one another in some almost magical way. Home meant a sanctuary, as common and taken for granted as the sun rising in the morning. Wherever John was taking Jacob, it sure as hell wasn't home.
A wave of exhaustion overcame him. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Do I have a choice about this?" he croaked.
There was a long stretch of silence. "No," the man said. The word was a guillotine.
It's for the best. You're not safe here.
Jacob closed his eyes. If he squeezed them shut tight enough, maybe his supposed uncle and the rest of the world would go away. A numb calm crept over him as he gave himself over to the future, unable to fight what would be, unable to care anymore. It crossed his mind that another person might pray in a situation like this, but Jacob didn't. Who would he pray to? If there was one thing his fifteen years of life had taught him, it was that there was nothing above him but sky. To believe in God would mean believing that He had allowed the tragedy that was Jacob's life in the first place. He didn't want to know a God who made a war then killed off people's fathers in it. No, Jacob was sure he was alone in this. Alone with an uncle he'd never even met.


Chapter Three

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Idea Behind The Soulkeepers

Rebellion is brilliant.

I know, I know, if you are a parent of a teenager, you might not think so. You might be pulling your hair out, cursing the rebellious years.  But as a mother, RN, and someone who volunteers with young people, I can tell you it's the truth. Teenage rebellion is brilliant because it's a sign that a person is developing an independent identity and thinking for themselves.

Several years ago I was talking to someone about the creation story.  I was raised Catholic so for me, the story was of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  I'd heard this story told hundreds of times as a kid but for some reason that year something new occurred to me.  The Garden of Eden was supposed to be this perfect place, the safest place created by God.  Who let the serpent in? It doesn't make a lot of sense when you think about.  Why would evil be hanging out right next to the tree of life?
          
My mind continued down this path and I was awestruck by the number of imperfections our minds have to overlook to make sense of our lives.  We live in a tough world.  Each of us deals with things about ourselves that we wish we could change.  I haven't met a person yet that didn't struggle with at least one member of their own family.  We often disagree with public policy and are at odds with our community, and no matter who or what religion you are, if you have faith it's not because everything you've been told makes perfect logical sense- it's because you've made sense of the imperfections.
          
I firmly believe that you can take any two people from any two religions, even if they are sitting next to each other in the same church, temple, or prayer circle and if you dig deep enough you will discover that they really don't believe exactly the same thing. That's because regardless of religion, each person connects to their higher power (or chooses not to) in a deeply individual way. Nature abhors sameness.  We were made different for a reason.

Back then, I had the idea for a story but I didn't know my character.  As I researched the market, I recognized that YA books seemed to either avoid the issue of God all together or else were very prescriptive about one specific religion.  I wanted my character to be real and I believe that real teenagers are all about questioning. So, I wrote a character who drove the events in my story in the throws of inner turmoil about who he was and if his life had a greater purpose. 
          
Jacob sees imperfection everywhere - in himself, in his family, in the new town he lives in, and he's completely written off any possibility that there could be a God. But Jacob is rebelling, he's searching, and he's deciding how he's going to make sense of his world...a world that is invaded by the supernatural.

Once I came to know Jacob, I knew I needed to tell his story.  I hope you'll enjoy the result as much as I do.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Soulkeepers Chapter One

1




The Boy Who Died


D
eath lived up to Jacob's expectations.
The day he died was sunny, as it was most days on the island of Oahu where he lived. Only a few miles away, bikini clad tourists stretched out on the sand of Waikiki beach. While they toasted themselves golden brown, Jacob lay on a steel surgical table, broken and bleeding. He'd heard that when a person died they saw a tunnel that ended in a bright light. If the person moved toward the light, God or some already deceased loved one like a great-grandmother would meet them on the other side. Jacob didn't believe it. He'd accepted that everything would end in black nothingness and for him it did. What he didn't expect was that the end was just the beginning.
The light returned. His eyes fluttered open against bright white and a face emerged from the radiance, materializing from the void. A rumbling voice called him by name. "Jacob. Jacob, can you hear me?" Behind the voice was the clink-clank of metal hitting metal and a smell like a copper penny soaked in Clorox.
"I think he's coming 'round," the voice said from behind a green surgical mask. Soulful brown eyes came into focus. Spikes of pain stabbed through Jacob's head and chest and he realized the man in scrubs was shaking him. He wanted to tell the man to stop, but a plastic dome pressed over his face. As he fought against the plastic, the tubes connected to his arm slapped against the metal pole near the gurney.
"Relax, my man," the face said, pressing Jacob's arms to his sides. "The mask has to stay on. It's oxygen and you need it."
In his confused state, Jacob couldn't understand that the green man was a doctor. All he knew was pressure and pain, like he'd been torn apart and put back together.
"Jacob, take a deep breath. Come on kid breathe."
Of its own volition, the air went in. The air went out. The pain made the air rattle in his mouth.
"That's it. A few more like that, Jacob. Slow and deep. Can you understand me?" the green man asked.
"Yes," Jacob tried to say but his voice was nothing but a rough whisper, muffled by the oxygen mask.
"Are you in pain?"
He tried to say yes again but the word dissolved in his throat. He nodded slightly too, in case the green man hadn't heard.
"Okay, just relax. I'm going to give you some morphine." The green man held up a syringe with some clear liquid in it, and then locked it onto the tube in Jacob's arm. He pressed the plunger and Jacob felt a cold ribbon twist into his vein. The pain ebbed. The light dimmed. On the ceiling there were tiles, foam squares in a steel grid that he guessed hid the wires and pipes up there. He counted the squares as he floated away, thinking of the wires and pipes under his own skin carrying the green man's juice to all his fingers and toes.
          When the darkness swallowed him again, all the thinking his exhausted, numbed-out, maybe-damaged brain could produce was a vague feeling that he'd forgotten something. The missing thought was an irritation at the back of his skull. The more he concentrated on it, the more the memory slipped from his grasp, an oily shoelace through languid fingers.


Chapter Two

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Author Interview Series - Karly Kirkpatrick

This will be the last interview of the series as The Soulkeepers is ready to launch!  All next week, I'll be releasing chapters, discussing the idea behind the novel, and filling you in on all of the details.


Please welcome Karly Kirkpatrick to So, Write. Here's what she had to say about her book Into The Shadows.

Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start writing? 

My story starts in 2007. J.K. Rowling had just concluded the Harry Potter series and I was desperate for new things to read. I’m also a movie buff, but at this time I was really starting to get tired of the terrible plot lines in films. So I decided to take a cue from some advice I’d read out there…write the book you’d love to read. The books play like movies in my head and I’d like to hope someday that one of them will get a chance to be on the big screen. I think that would be like my ultimate dream-come-true! Also, I’d just had my daughter and was spending a lot of hours at home staring at a sleeping baby (not nearly as exciting as everyone says). I started Into the Shadows in July, 2007, in my parents’ van as we drove to Tomahawk, Wisconsin for a family vacation.

I epublished my first novel, Into the Shadows, in November 2010. In January 2011, I started an epublishing label, DarkSide Publishing with fellow author Megg Jensen. We were later joined by two other authors…your very own G.P. Ching and Angela Carlie. I also detail my Adventures in Epublishing on my blog www.karlykirkpatrick.com. I am a member of SCBWI and am working towards a master’s degree in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University in Chicago. My second book, a YA paranormal romance titled Bloody Little Secrets, will be released later this spring from DarkSide Publishing.


What is Into the Shadows about? 
It is the story of Paivi Anderson, a high school freshman who is trying to maintain a normal life despite some major factors at play that she has absolutely no control over. She has the ability to see into the future, which she is hiding from her friends. Paivi is also confronted with a larger threat—a presidential candidate with an agenda that threatens to destroy her life.

How did you come up with the idea for Into the Shadows?I started by putting a lot of things together that I had knowledge of and liked (action, political intrigue, adventure, romance, historical themes-made-modern, paranormal elements). It really adhered to the ‘write what you know’ motto that writers sometimes hear. I don’t necessarily believe that in all cases, but it is helpful/easier to write what you know sometimes!

What makes Into The Shadows different or special compared to the other titles in this genre?
I’ve seen in reviews that people have appreciated the strong female main character and the step away from the more formulaic YA paranormal novels.

Another special thing about the book is I used my knowledge of World War II, the Holocaust, and the McCarthy era (I am a history minor and history teacher on occasion) as the basis for the story. I really tried to take a look at what it would be like if a similar, paranormal situation occurred today. How would we handle it? How would kids react to such difficult and confusing circumstances?

What type of reader do you feel will enjoy this book the most?
Readers who like their action/adventure/political intrigue/paranormal books with a dash of romance will enjoy this book. I think it appeals to a vast range of ages and both genders.

What has been the most difficult part of the publishing process for you? The most rewarding?The most difficult part of the publishing process was wading through a couple of years of querying the book to agencies and publishing houses and finding it just didn’t fit with what they were looking for, despite the fact that they liked the story.

The most rewarding has been the entire epublishing process. The idea that I’ve been lucky enough to reach out to readers and have the opportunity to put my book in their hands has been the coolest thing so far!

Where can we buy your book?

The ebook is available for $2.99/ 1.71 GBP at:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble 

Smashwords

The paperback is available for $11.00 at:
CreateSpace

Amazon 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Author Interview Series -Scotti Cohn

Please welcome Scotti Cohn to So, Write.  Scotti writes for both adults and children.  I highly recommend any and all of her books for her distinctive voice and masterful use of language.  Here's what she says about her latest picture book Big Cat, Little Kitty available now from Sylvan Dell. 


Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start writing? 
I started writing poetry and stories in elementary school, and was fortunate to be encouraged by my parents and one teacher in particular. As for motivation, I simply love putting words together on paper to create worlds and situations that otherwise exist only in my own mind. All of my published books are (essentially) nonfiction. However, I have completed a Young Adult fantasy novel that I hope to see published someday. I am also considering self-publishing a fantasy for older elementary school children.

The best place to learn about my ten published books is my web site (www.scotticohn.com). The site also has links to my blogs.

What is Big Cat, Little Kitty about?
Big Cat, Little Kitty is a concept book that compares and contrasts the behavior, appearance, and habitat of big cats like lions and tigers with that of the "little kitties" who share our homes and neighborhoods. It also introduces or reinforces the days of the week. 

Big Cat, Little Kitty is nonfiction in that it depicts cats in realistic settings doing what cats naturally do. I also use anthropomorphism to help convey the cats' territorial, predatory nature. I created a book trailer that provides information and can give potential readers a "feel" for the book. You can see it on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpqWBwZ5iwo).

How did you come up with the idea for Big Cat, Little Kitty?
Except for a few years scattered here and there, I have always shared my home with cats. In the 1960s, our family had a pair of cats named Sonny and Cher. I currently have five cats. I am fascinated by the appearance and behavior of cats. I often think about the fact that no other creature has such a huge range of sizes (well, I suppose you could say lizards do, if you believe in dragons...)

Your illustrations are incredible. How did you find such a talented illustrator? Can you share some tips on collaboration with an illustrator?
Susan Detwiler is a truly amazing artist. I can't take credit for finding her. My editor at Sylvan Dell Publishing, Donna German, hired her to illustrate my first book, One Wolf Howls. That is typically what happens with picture books. Unless the author is also an illustrator, the editor selects an illustrator for the book. Typically, the author and illustrator do not communicate at all. Everything goes through the editor. When Sylvan Dell (www.sylvandellpublishing.com), accepted Big Cat, Donna knew Susan would be perfect for that book as well. Susan is also illustrating my third book for Sylvan Dell: On the Move, which is about mass migrations of animals in North America. That one is scheduled for publication in 2012. I have seen preliminary sketches and they are fabulous!

What makes Big Cat, Little Kitty different or special compared to other picture books out there?
As part of the submission process, I did a bit of research to determine if there were any similar books currently on the market. I found books that were totally whimsical or "cartoony" and books that were straight nonfiction narrative, often with photographs. Big Cat, Little Kitty is different from all of those. 

Also, Sylvan Dell books are unique in that they always include a section in the back of the book called "For Creative Minds." It contains facts, games, and activities related to the subject of the book. Big Cat, Little Kitty contains sections called "What Are Cats and How Are They Related?" and "Cat Senses and Adaptations" as well as "Cats of the World: A Map and Matching Activity" and "Cat True-False Questions." 

Sylvan Dell books are different from most other picture books in another important way: Parents, teachers, and children can access eBook versions of all of the books on line in both English and Spanish. They can not only read the books themselves but listen to the books being read aloud in both languages. 

What type of reader do you feel will enjoy this book the most?
Big Cat, Little Kitty is the perfect read-aloud book to share with very young children. I am a firm believer in reading to babies and toddlers. Children who are just learning to read will enjoy the book, and older children can learn from and enjoy the activities and facts presented in the back of the book. As one reviewer said about my book One Wolf Howls, "This book grows with your child." I am thrilled that Big Cat, Little Kitty has been described by a teacher as "the perfect anchor text for a mini-lesson in choosing more precise vocabulary" (for older elementary and middle-school students). 

What has been the most difficult part of the publishing process for you? The most rewarding?

The most difficult part was the submission-rejection process involved with my first picture book. I submitted One Wolf Howls to 23 publishers before it was picked up by Sylvan Dell. After that, Sylvan Dell rejected three other manuscripts of mine (there is no guarantee that the publisher who published one of your books will publish others!). I was delighted when they accepted Big Cat, Little Kitty. 

The most rewarding part of this process has been to see my vision come to life in gorgeous pictures. It is also rewarding to hear from people whose children love my books.

When and where can we buy your book?
Big Cat, Little Kitty is for sale in hard cover and paperback through the usual channels. Amazon offers a Kindle version. Your local book store may not have this book on the shelf because there are just too many books out there for any store to carry them all. However, stores can easily order any of my books for you. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Author Interview Series -Heather Hildenbrand

Welcome Heather Hildenbrand to So, Write.  Heather is a young YA author whose book, Across The Galaxy came out in paperback today!  Check out what she had to say about her book.

Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start writing?

I am a Navy wife and mother of two living in VA. Early motivations were Tolkien and C..S. Lewis. They could spin a tale like nobody's business. As for my writing, you can find out more here: www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com

What is Across The Galaxy about?
Orphaned as a young girl, Alina Leone has spent the last few years in dusty Arizona, being raised by her guardian, Peter, and wishing for a friendship that isn’t filled with lies and deception about exactly what she really is. Just before she can begin senior year she meets someone from her past – a talking wolf from another galaxy who won’t stop calling her ‘Empress’ - and in a single moment, her future is changed forever. She becomes a fugitive, on the run from the Shadows, the same monsters who killed her parents, and flees to the safety of the planet Bardawulf for refuge. But not everyone in this magically protected fortress is what they seem.

How did you come up with the idea for Across The Galaxy?
With the help of my kids, actually.

What makes Across The Galaxy different or special compared to the other titles in this genre?
The female is the heroine! She doesnt need a gooey eyed boy -although there is one of those in the book - to save her!

What type of reader do you feel will enjoy this book the most?

It's YA, so teen, but I'm 28 and I love YA, too, so I know there's a wider age range for this.

What has been the most difficult part of the publishing process for you? The most rewarding?

The paperback version has given me some serious headaches with formatting. But the most rewarding is hearing positive feedback from readers who loved it!

Where can we buy your book?

Amazon

Barnes&Noble

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Author Interview Series -James C. Wallace

Please welcome James C. Wallace to So, Write.  James has written a trilogy of books that build on the fantasy world of Oz: The Magician of Oz, The Shadow Demon of Oz, and The Family of Oz.

What is Family of Oz about?

It has been nearly 6 months since young Jamie Diggs returned from the Land of Oz with his best friend Buddy after defeating an ancient Evil known as the Shadow Demon of Oz while serving as Princess Ozma's new Royal Magician.

Now, he is called to return once more and take his rightful place alongside Her Majesty; Princess Ozma and Glinda; Good Witch and Ruler of the South Quadling Country, as well as Princess Dorothy.

Before the Royal Magician can return to Oz however, he finds himself on a fantastic journey down the Wabash River and a stop in Huntington, West Virginia for a taste of the legendary Stewart's Original Hot Dogs and Root Beer. Then it’s on to attend the annual gathering of their fellow magicians, known as the Magi-Fest and a tumultuous Close-Up Magic Competition.

Soon, the Family Diggs, Hank and Buddy find themselves transported back to Oz by way of The Duke's Magic Box. The only problem they find is that each one of them now find themselves somewhere in Oz... but alone!

As the Family Diggs, Hank and Buddy journey along the roadways, riverways and even above the Land of Oz alone, each one struggles to discover what Love and family means to them and each learns along the way that Love and family have been with them all along.

In a final and most fantastical battle alongside the Munchkin River, Jamie Diggs and his new army of friends battle Cobbler the Dog, a new and most mechanical pet of Tik-Tok, the Mechanical Army of Oz and an Unwilling Villain in an epic struggle of Good against Evil.


How did you come up with the idea for the Oz Trilogy?
I grew up in a loving household where my parents read to me on a daily basis and taught me the joy of 
reading. Many a night I recall sitting in our front room as my mother would read from the many books of Oz and my father would act out some of the odd scenes pictured within.

As I grew up, my love for reading never diminished and my parents support for my love of reading never wavered. Once parenthood struck me, I found myself instilling in my children that same love of reading through the world of Oz I had known so well. Years later, my grandchildren now share that same love of L. Frank Baum’s magical world of fairies, magicians and wicked witches.

Several years ago, while engaged in testing some educational software about Geography for 6th graders, I encountered quite a number of children who could not read, literally. It's one thing to suggest that there are kids in America who cannot read. It's quite another to come face-to-face with them.
I found myself at the end of the day sitting in my car in the parking lot shaking with remorse and resolving to do something about what I had just witnessed.  It was later that night when Her Majesty, Princess Ozma appeared to me as a vision in an icicle hanging from our back porch and bid me attend Her in Emerald City for a special command.

I soon found myself standing in her mighty palace, surrounded by the very characters I had known from my childhood and Princess Ozma herself commanded me to tell her story of Love, family and friendship for the children of the Great Outside.

In doing so, she assured me that all those who love Oz would embrace her story and give the children of the Great Outside a reason to put down their cel phones, pick up a book and once more immerse themselves in the written word.

What makes the Oz Trilogy different or special compared to the other titles in this genre?
Unlike many books about Oz in today’s culture, my books endeavor to return to the vision of L. Frank Baum and the values of Love, family, friendship, truth and honor that he spoke of so eloquently. In today’s world, there is a trend towards what I call the ‘adultification’ of children’s stories and my work hopefully seeks to reverse that trend.

What type of reader do you feel will enjoy this book the most?
Though I had originally envisioned these stories targeting 10-14 year olds, I have found that if you love the world of Oz, be it the original 14 books by L. Frank Baum, MGM’s 1939 The Wizard of Oz movie or even the stage plays, my stories will appeal to you. Such is the magic of Oz.

What has been the most difficult part of the publishing process for you? The most rewarding?
For me, the most difficult part of this process has been the many brick walls, arrogant attitudes and narrow sighted nonsense of the publishing industry which rejected my writings and denied the world of reading my stories of Oz. Due to these attitudes, I found it necessary to dive into the self-publishing world and it has been that decision which has provided me with my most rewarding experiences in the publishing realm. When a child approaches me and joyfully explains my story to me, then I know my decision was a correct one. Princess Ozma also concurs.

Where can we buy your book?
Currently, my books are available on Amazon.com:

Magician of Oz (Paperback) 

Magician of Oz Kindle 

Shadow Demon of Oz

Shadow Demon of Oz Kindle 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Author Interview Series -Eric Krause

I love this picture. It looks like you
can win your own writer with $.50 and a claw.
Please welcome Eric Krause to So, Write!  I've been a fan of Eric's flash fiction for a while now and am super excited to have him here today to talk about his middle grade book Way Over the Line.  

Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start writing. 
I've been writing since elementary school. It started simply to entertain myself and my family members. The earliest stories I remember were "epic yarns" about the battle between Gummy Bears and Gummy Worms--well, they were epic to me, anyway. The praise my family heaped on me hooked me on writing fiction.

Now I write because I can't stop. Stories bombard me, and I need to get them down on paper or risk having my brain explode. (Though I often wonder if my skull would blow, too, or if the grey matter would simply run out my nose…) I've been published various times in various ezines, and that has helped my zest for the craft stay alive, as well.

I also post flash fiction stories on my blog (almost) every Friday for Friday Flash. Mondays on my blog are reserved for speculative fiction writing prompts, which I hope help other fiction writers find ideas. I also occasionally post "how-to" writing articles. You can find all of these, and more, on my blog: Eric J. Krause's Writing Spot.

What is Way Over the Line about? 
Jessie Campbell loves baseball, but he's terrified of the ball. Though he can make great running catches,  
if a ball is hit right at him, he'll duck out of the way. And forget about batting. When he and his best friend, Ryder Gonzalez, are abducted by space aliens, the boys learn that the aliens want Ryder to play in the huge Intergalactic Over the Line Tournament. Jessie is only along for the ride. He soon learns, however, that this won't be a simple spectator sport. He'll need to deal with horrors such as space pirates, and, even worse, actually participating on the field. With the help of Ryder, his alien teammates, a cute girl from another planet, and even Mickey Martell, the best baseball player in the Universe, Jessie must learn to push away his fears and focus on learning how to better play the game--both mentally and physically.

And if all of that wasn't enough pressure, there's also whisperings that he may be the fabled Chosen One, destined to bring the championship to his team.

How did you come up with the idea for Way Over the Line
Way Over the Line came to me first as an idea of baseball in space. I've always loved stories where games or sports are portrayed in a normal light, but with a bit of a twist to make them different. I had a few glimpses at how I wanted the game to be played, but I didn't have a story. The images, however, wouldn't leave me alone, so I began free writing and playing "What if?" to come to an understanding of the plot. The more words I doodled, the more the story solidified. Nothing would ever have happened with this book, though, if I hadn't originally pictured a young teen trying to bat against a robot hurling 100 MPH fastballs.

What makes Way Over the Line different or special compared to the other titles in the genre?
Way Over the Line
takes the very recognizable sport of baseball and places it in a science fiction setting. There are spaceships, aliens, lizard space pirates, and prophecies to go along with batters, fielders, and home runs. I hope readers will find this to be a fun change of pace from traditional sports stories and science fiction tales.

What type of reader will enjoy this book the most? 
This book is aimed at the 10-13 year old baseball and/or science fiction fan, but anyone who enjoys either genre can get a kick out of Way Over the Line. I also hope readers of all ages will enjoy following the emotional and physical growth of Jessie, the main character.

What has been the most difficult part of the publishing process for you? The most rewarding? 
The most difficult part of the process is marketing. The link to purchase Way Over the Line is prominently displayed on my blog, and I use Twitter (you can find me, @ericjkrause, at: http://twitter.com/ericjkrause) and Facebook (my author page is here: http://www.facebook.com/authorericjkrause) quite a bit to get the word out. But having said that, I feel like very few people know about the book. That gets a bit frustrating.

Hands down the most rewarding part of the process is when I get a purchase notification. Not because of the incoming money (which is, don't get me wrong, nice), but because I know someone will have a chance to read the story. I'm hoping to hear what readers think of it. I'd love to know via Twitter, Facebook, my blog, or as reviews on the website where it was purchased.

Where can we buy your book? 
Way Over the Line is available only as an ebook. You can find it at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple iBookstore (if not now, very soon). You can visit my blog page for all of the links.

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk about Way Over the Line, Gen. Good luck with your upcoming release. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Thanks Eric!  I'm adding this one to my TBR pile for sure. I know my daughter would love this one.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

No Flash Today

I admit it, I am way behind on participating in fridayflash.  Publishing The Soulkeepers has been a time consuming labor of love, one I hope will result in a successful launch in just a couple of weeks.  I'll be back  with more flash fiction as soon as possible.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Author Interview Series - Amy Rose Davis

Please welcome Amy Rose Davis to So, Write.  I love the the Ravenmarked cover.  Sexy and mysterious, just like the title.  I was excited for the chance to learn more about the author.

Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start writing? 

[Amy Rose Davis] I have always been a storyteller. I've been telling stories from the time I could talk, and as soon as I could write, I started putting them on paper. I wrote angsty teenage romance stories in high school, and in the early 90s, I wrote two full-length fantasy novels. Both of them are hiding deep in my closet to be laughed over after I'm gone. :)

When I had kids, I wanted to work from home, so I started freelancing as a commercial writer. During that time I wrote for a construction trade journal and had three short stories accepted to the "Cup of Comfort" anthologies, but that was as far as my byline went. When my work started to wane with the recession, I decided to return to fiction writing. I wrote the first draft of Ravenmarked during NaNoWriMo 2009.

You can visit Amy Jo Davis at her blog: Modicum of Talent


What is Ravenmarked about? Is this part of a series?
[Amy Rose Davis] Ravenmarked is about a man who is marked by the earth to be an avenging angel. He doesn't like the idea of being anyone's killer, so he tries to keep the magic at bay by working as a freelance man-at-arms and armed escort. That way he can justify killing in the line of duty. When the
long-lost heir to his country's throne needs an escort, he agrees to take the job. He finds himself drawn to her and the magic that makes him a killer at the same time, and he has to decide if he'll succumb to the magic or keep running from it. In the end, the heir's life depends on his choice.

Ravenmarked is the first in a five-book series called The Taurin Chronicles. I'm working on book two, Bloodbonded.


How did you come up with the idea for The Taurin Chronicles?
[Amy Rose Davis] It started with just an image of a girl in white running for her life from an abbey. I played with that idea for about three years (off and on) before I finally sat down to write the book. The girl ended up being my catalyst character, not the main character. I found Connor, the ravenmarked escort, much more compelling. But in book two, the girl, Mairead, will be the main character.

I love epic fantasy and wanted to play with a lot of themes like mercy, justice, and vengeance. I also kind of wanted to play with the idea of the earth just getting fed up with people on it, but in a Medieval setting. And, I like the idea of cusps and tipping points. The world of The Taurin Chronicles is one that's in upheaval and chaos and on the verge of new ideas and exciting changes--in many ways like our own world is! It's sort of straddling the line between Medieval and Renaissance, which is a fascinating
historical period, I think.


What makes Ravenmarked different or special compared to other titles in this genre?
[Amy Rose Davis] For one thing, it's always interesting when you give someone a violent magic and ask them to control it. A lot of hero/magicians are seen as just plain old good guys, and no one questions whether their actions are right. Connor questions himself constantly: "Is this spirit that marked me good or bad? Am I killing someone who should be killed, or is this just vengeance for vengeance's sake? How can I know I'm right?" He walks a slippery slope and has a lot of internal struggles to contend with.

Another thing... A lot of epic fantasy is plot-driven. This book (and series) is very character-driven, and each book in the series will have a different protagonist. Plus, there are strong romantic themes throughout my writing. While there's plenty of sex in classic epic fantasy, there's not always a lot of romance, and mine has romance.

Finally, I think this book straddles a line between secular and Christian fantasy. I hope it straddles it well. :) Christians who don't mind some messy characters who have a lot of vices will probably enjoy this book, and non-Christians who don't mind some biblical imagery and a monotheistic world will probably enjoy it, too.


What type of reader do you feel will enjoy this book the most?
[Amy Rose Davis] People who like a lot of magic, a lot of character development, a fair dose of blood, and a little romance. :)


What has been the most difficult part of the publishing process for you? The most rewarding?
[Amy Rose Davis] The most difficult is figuring out where to focus my marketing efforts. Sometimes I feel like I'm just marketing to other writers! With all the noise on the Internet, it's tough to figure out what
makes the most sense sometimes.

The most rewarding: Definitely when people compliment my work! The creative control is also rewarding, and I'm enjoying the freedom of being able to release my work on my own timeline. :)

Where can we buy your book?
[Amy Rose Davis] 

Thank you for visiting today, Amy.  I'll be adding this one to my TBR list for sure.  Good luck with your future titles.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Author Interview Series - Garry Graves

Please welcome Garry Graves to So, Write!  Garry is the first non-fiction author to appear in this series.  His book is about something we need more of in this world, character.  Here's what Garry had to say about his book.


Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start writing? 
[Garry] I’m a businessman, educator and now writer of nonfiction (Personal Development and Biography), and soon fiction with a Sherlock Holmes-esque style, under a penname. Was motivated by a favorite professor who thought that businessmen; particularly business owners, should be proficient in prose when describing the intricacies of business financials, pro-forma’s, and all business details in communications with bankers, venture capitalists and potential stock owners. He was right...the concept stuck with me. My business writing (some say it to be fiction, hehe), was recognized by some who thought it worthy to a point of parting with their monies relative to my venture at the time.

In 2005, after 30 years of meeting all kinds and types of business scoundrels, as well as angels, someone suggested it might be helpful to read a book reminding everyone of the effects of decision-making. In 2010 I self-published: ‘Character Happens! The 5 Most Important—But Fleeting Virtues.’ (characterhappens.com)
Prior to Character Happens!, my only previous published work were articles in trade and industry magazines.

What is Character Happens about?
[Garry] The book has five stories and/or chapters. Each story discusses a selected virtue (my choice), of the many that are known. Each story focuses on an individual member of a group of six people who are golf buddies. The stories are written around a golf storyline employing an event on the golf course with the chapter-focused individual’s personal life. Here is my descriptive information on Amazon’s ebook page.

[Garry is interested in feedback on his Amazon description.  You can leave any in the comments]


How did you come up with the idea for Character Happens?
[Garry] Being a business consultant, business owner, salesman and part time community college instructor, I’ve always had what I thought to be a nice blend of first-hand business experience coupled with formal business knowledge. After thirty years in business; observing, studying successful ventures, and questioning the failed ventures...you become acutely aware of what successful businesses employ with their workers their processes and their customers. Simply, it’s the ‘character’ of an organization that drives most to success. Many times this organizational character comes from ‘one’ individual...with little credit, as it should be, given to the nuances of their product/service, the marketplace or the economy. I wanted to speak out about my observations juxtaposing decision-making and business success and failures. I thought a book might be the perfect vehicle.

BTW, I like to think of the book as my way of ‘paying it forward,’ to those (businesspeople, individuals, those just starting out), who think of themselves as character challenged, as well. hehe.


What makes Character Happens different or special compared to the other titles in this genre?
[Garry] Candidly, I blister at ‘self-help’ tripe. Character Happens!, offers five stories about how individuals ‘might’ better their lives should they make decisions outside their own self-interest. The book is not prescriptive like Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but more like Bennett’s, The Book of Virtues, whereby story offerings are given without any life-directions or assertions about ‘how to’ do this or that.

The book’s storyline, at times, is terse, sharp, damning, condescending and critical of individuals and/or their actions. It is also loving, caring, compelling and complex...in a teaching kind of way. Readers will notice immediately that Character Happens!, is not your typical read relative to the concept of character. It’s from a war-worn businessman who has observed some beautiful AND horrendous decision’s coming from a myriad (gender, age, religiosity, education, ethnicity), of human beings. The book has no religious bent and professes none. It offers no methodology, other than to think deeper, considering all ramifications of your decision.

What type of reader do you feel will enjoy this book the most?
[Garry] The books five featured characters, one featured in each chapter, vary in gender, age, religious background and socio-economic strata, with the only binding variable being that they play golf.

The book was written considering all these variables - thinking readership might reflect a similar makeup and further the books distribution. Besides, my consideration of character-trait variance (age, gender, etc), reflects a greater segment or randomness of the population, which makes the stories more compelling. IMO.

Target audience: Males and Females - 15 to 75 years. All Golfers - 15 to 75 years. Personal Development Readers (People who like to improve their lives) - 15+ years. Businesspeople both male and female.

What has been the most difficult part of the publishing process for you?  The most rewarding?
[Garry] Realizing that my eyes (and knowledge), only, will not serve as a proper edit of my work. You need other writers or professional editors to study your manuscript. Friends and family will not do, you need others help in making your manuscript the best it can be.

Thinking I’m a smart guy...I edited Character Happens!, myself. It has numerous grammatical errors; miss-spelled words, missing words, spacing errors and other appearance needs. That is why the book is being revised this spring. The text will be edited throughout with all corrections made. The subtitle will be changed to further drive a missing demographic to my book. The books color will change from red to yellow. The pic on the cover will change from an angel to a 1700’s era couple setting on a rock, on a golf course, speaking with a youngster.

Most rewarding? Being in control of the entire publishing process.


Where can we buy your book?
[Garry] Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and others.

BTW, I just uploaded my second book, a biography of a WWII veteran who crashed the beaches of Omaha. Check it out.


Thanks Garry!  I so agree on the editing advice.  The more eyes the better.  Good luck with Character Happens and your new WWII book.

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