Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feeling All Authorly and Stuff

For those of you who don't follow my twitter feed, you probably haven't seen the announcement. Heck, even if you are on twitter, you know how it goes. Millions of bits of data flying at warp speed across your screen like something out of the Matrix.

At least, that's how it feels to me sometimes. Especially when crazy things are going on like VMA shenanigans, or my favorite the post PitchMadness pitch party (which can get insane and usually ends up with me in twitter jail).

Anyway, what happened is that I now have a mentor. Her name is Nicole Rescinti and is an agent at the Seymour Agency. You might recognize her as @NicLitAgent on twitter or my mention of her as one of the judges at the RT Writer Idol competition.

I wish I had the picture they took of us at the competition, but I'm still working on tracking it down. Somebody took a picture with a phone, but I never got it. So, you get a nice picture of her without me messing it up. :D

I borrowed this from the Seymour Agency website
Anyway, she and I have been in contact over the last couple months since the competition emailing back and forth. Finally, after much nail-biting on my part, I got an email from her with notes. Like actual notes. ON MY NOVEL. FROM AN AGENT!

I totally felt all authorly. It was awesome. She told me what she liked and then assigned me "homework". Homework? Really? Yes, really. I have homework. You see, my novel has a strong voice, great characters, and a solid setting. What it doesn't have is a clear plot. Yes, I have things going on, people kissing, arguing, being angsty, and other teenagery stuff, but I don't have a clear plot. What is my MC's goal? What is he trying to accomplish in this story and what things are getting in his way.

So I took a couple days and let it sink in what she was saying and wanting. She wanted a chapter chart and a character chart. I'd never done those. The chapter chart, she said, would help me see the problems in my plot. The character chart would help me see what my characters' goals, motivations, and challenges are.

After doing the chapter chart, I realized something important. I have no plot. I need a plot. And I'm an exposition-holic. Is there 12 step program for that? Maybe I can get little medallions for every chapter that doesn't overuse exposition. You'd only need a couple to start with because I'm so addicted!

Anyway, it's not easy looking at your novel like this, but that's probably why she made me do it because I have IDEAS. I've come up with an outline of changes I want to make that will hopefully make things better and even more awesome.

And with the help of Nicole, my kickass CP, Bonnie, and all of those people who have taken time out of their lives to beta read this thing, I'm sure the end result will seriously rock. And who knows, maybe I'll get it published.

The moral of the story is this. Take a chance. Don't wait. I almost didn't sign up for that competition. I didn't think I would get selected as a finalist, and I definitely didn't expect to get picked as a runner up. If I hadn't taken that chance, Hate Jacket would still be sitting there, getting passes and never getting out into the world.

'Till Next Time.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cover Reveal: Love and Other Games

Love and Other Games is a collection of four sexy new adult stories centered around athletes competing in the Winter Games by Ana Blaze, Melinda Dozier, Aria Kane, and Kara Leigh Miller. It releases October 1st from Swoon Romance in all major electronic formats.

Worth More Than Gold by Ana Blaze

Amy Pierce, the klutzy sister and manager of America’s Skating Sweetheart, is used to being invisible. But when a friend drags her to a party near the Olympic Village, Amy catches the eye of a sexy Norwegian ski jumper. It’s a magical night, but an awkward next morning has her running.

Everyone knows Erik Andresen’s best shot at an individual medal was back in 2010, before an injury pulled him from the competition. He’s there for his team, but a hot night and a remarkable final training session have him wondering if a gorgeous good-luck charm could give him another chance at the podium.

With a little bit of luck, these two might have a shot at something worth more than gold.

Ana Blaze's: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Trouble With Gold by Melinda Dozier

US snowboarder and notorious prankster, Ty (Trouble) Madsen is only getting a taste of his own medicine when his Olympic teammates shackle him to a fence wearing nothing but his boxers.

Reception and protocol volunteer, Nadia Hoffman, gets up close and personal with the sexy snowboarder to rescue him, but she's not the kind of girl who lets her hormones get in her way. A professional performance could help her land her dream job at Olympics Committee Headquarters, but her new assignment supervising the rambunctious US Snowboarding Team is making that difficult.

Can she see behind the snowman in the community center bathroom and into the warm heart of the man everyone calls Trouble?

Melinda Dozer's: Website | Twitter | Facebook

The Girl Behind the Gold by Aria Kane

Greek aerial skier Lia Milonas’s parents are about to lose the family farm. Saving it means medaling and landing a huge sponsor. While her no-nonsense attitude has her well on her way to a medal, it hasn’t won her a place in fans' hearts.

“Come back with a story that will make readers cry, or don’t come back.” This is what Brandon James’ boss told him before he left New York to cover the Winter Games for Moment Magazine. With a wink and a smile, he can charm his way into any invite-only party, but that career-making story is nowhere to be found – until he meets Lia.

The two strike a deal that should get them both what they want - but neither would have guessed they’d also find what they need.

Aria Kane's: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Ice Gold by Kara Leigh Miller

Colton Campbell thrives on the fast paced, adrenaline rushed lifestyle of being an Olympic hockey player. Despite Brenna Jessup's abhorrence for the games and the athletes, she's hand-picked as the official photographer for the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team. When a faux pas by Brenna almost costs Colton his career, she owes him. Too bad for her, Colton doesn't want apologies -- he wants retribution! And he knows just how to get it -- and her -- in the process.

Kara Leigh Miller's: Website | Twitter | Facebook

To celebrate the cover reveal, the authors are giving away a $20 gift card to the bookstore of the winner's choice. Check out the rafflecopter below to enter!

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday's Children: Redefining Man

This entire post was inspired by the amazing and talented Karina Cooper. Not only is she a fabulous writer, she is also a beautiful person inside and out. After she wrote this post, I told her she had a beautiful soul. She laughed at me, but it's true. What she wrote was so powerful and true, it inspired me to write my own.

And like her post, this post is about me and it's about you. I hope it affects you as it affects me.


To many times we spend wasting talking about labels.
You/Me. Tall/Short. Fat/Skinny. Man/Woman. Ugly/Beautiful.

We need to define/label things to know where to put them and how to feel about them. But labels are just that. Nothing. Constructs of the mind to organize and inhibit. Pigeon holes. Forcing a conformity on the unconventional. Round holes and square pegs.

Too often these labels get put on without thought to the person underneath.
Man/Woman. Strong/Weak. Able/Unable. Good/Bad. Master/Slave.

Society claims that there are only two--Man/Woman. There is no Other. You have to be one and not step outside the lines. Color your squares and circles and dot your I's. Cross your T's if you please.

But aren't we all Other? Unique like the snowflake? Each of us different and undefined? Unrestricted except in our minds? Society demands conformity. Toe the line. Stand up, don't slouch. Be good and don't pout. You get what you get, so don't throw a fit.



Too often we take the label and define ourselves. Put ourselves in a tiny box and make our minds a slave to society's assumptions. A pawn to the dictators that say what we should think, what we should do, whom we should love. What's the norm and the clothes on our back.

Step outside it and you are nothing, a loser, weak, stupid. An object to be ridiculed and abused.

As a man, I was taught to think like a man, be like a man, talk like a man, walk like a man. Be Strong/Able/Good/Master. The hunter, the gatherer. Protect and enslave the weak, the woman.

These thoughts were defined by colors and toys, games, movies, parents, teachers. I am man. I am strong. I have to like blue, and army men, wars, and fighting. Football/Basketball. Sports. Tough. Manly. Walk it off. Rub some dirt in it. Don't let them push you around. Show them whose boss, applesauce. Don't wear your heart on your shirtsleeves. You're nothing if you aren't tough and strong and can prove it to everyone.

What I wasn't taught by my patriarch/my master/my sire/my father, was it was ok to be different. That it was ok to like different things. Ok not to be athletic/strong/tough/master/dominant. That it was ok to like happy endings and fairy tales, unicorns and dolls.

See, I wasn't a normal boy. I liked unicorns and romance, happy endings and fairy tales. I even had a doll I slept with up until I was five, six, maybe seven. Even after that, I had a bed full of stuffed animals. Each one named. Each one with a story. Each with it's own life. There when I needed a friend, a shoulder to cry on. I wasn't all that tough. I wore my heart on my shirtsleeves. I struggled and failed, but I never gave up.

I could have ended it all, but I didn't.

What I wasn't taught until much later was that a man didn't have to be the master/hunter/subjugator/warrior to be a man. It took strength of mind/soul/heart/self to be powerful. The only fighting I needed to do was against my own fear. The only subjugation was for my baser instincts that society expected. The small boy with the big stick. Walk softly and speak your mind. For words, spoken truthfully, are a powerful thing. Stronger than a fist. You may strike me down, but you will not defeat me.

My heart and my soul are mine and mine alone to share as I see fit with the ones I love and cherish. I can love and be loved and everything is right. I can be gentle and humble and know I have NOTHING to prove. For I am a Man. A man who knows that it's ok to be different and to feel different and to love different. To do things outside the tiny box that society gives you. The tiny cell that enslaves you into an expectation. An expectation that those who are different are nothing and those who don't fit the narrow-minded doctrine of the world, are nothing. And as nothing should be treated as lesser, unequal--undeserving of compassion, love, help, joy.

See? This isn't about Man/Woman. Gay/straight. Weak/Strong. Able/Unable. Master/Slave.

It's about You and Me. It's about loving ourselves and loving others. It's about rising above and stepping outside. It's about destroying stereotypes that say one is better than another. That one is better by definition of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. That for some reason the color of their skin/hair/eyes exalts them above all. That their genitalia defines their worth. That who they love and cherish makes them better.

Think about it. Speak about it. Silence isn't golden.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 2013 #writemotivation update 2

Um...wasn't it just July?

Seriously. Where the hell did August go?

I don't know. It's weird. Some months it just flies and some months it just crawls. And sometimes it just flops about and does nothing.

Ok. So, here is where things stand. The wrist is getting way better. Up to 40 degrees of passive movement (that's when my therapist pulls my fingers down and I cry)--speaking of my therapist, she'll try to convince you that she's a little old lady...she isn't. She's taller than me.

Anyway, I'm weening off the brace which means I can type better. This should help my writing immensely. I've also started to get a good feel for my new MCs voice. this means I can stop flailing and get more writing down.

Provided I stop goofing off...and seeing as I don't have the excuse of the brace getting in the way...

Anyway, here is my goal update:
  1. Write every day. This will be hampered by the wrist surgery, but still something I need to strive for. I should be out of the brace almost 100% by the end of the week. This should help me type better.
  2. Blog once a week. Yup!
  3. Cheer on my #writemotivation tweeps I've thrown some Dino Zombie Cheerleader Ninja Throwing Star Cookies about.
  4. Read two books. I started Red Shirts by John Scalzi. It's a fun book and has lots of references to Star Trek. It's awesome.
  5. Participate in the Pay It Forward Giveaway (see button on the side-bar). Done.

Also, I'm playing around with my blog theme (if you haven't noticed). Not sure it will stay this way, but we'll see.

And now for the cutest freaking picture in the's adorable.

'Till Next Time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blog Tour: The Coldness of Marek by Rachel O'Laughlin plus Giveaway

So the other day, I got to sit down with the lovely and awesome Rachel O'Laughlin to talk about her recently released book, THE COLDNESS OF MAREK. Well, we virtually chatted using Google Chat. However, it was still awesome despite the occasional distraction from work and children.

Anyway, we decided to try something new and talk about some behind the scenes stuff regarding the world she created and where some of it came from.

There is also a giveaway at the end. :D

Here is our chat:
Andrew: Ok. Ready for the first question?

Rachel: Let's do it!

Andrew: Ok. Unlike traditional fantasy settings, yours has no overt religion or magic. Even Game of Thrones (which is also heavy into politics) has these elements. What made you remove those elements from your world?

Rachel: I honestly tried to include those elements, but since my main story didn't have a lot to do with magic, adding in extra felt shallow and contrived to me, and I knew that meant it would DEFINITELY sound contrived to my readers. I'm like this with certain types of characters as well. I don't want them to come off as fake, so I try to just focus on what is relevant. There is some very subtle magic and religion, but it doesn't become important until much later in the story... *hint hint*

Andrew: Let's talk about the politics, since this is a politics driven story.

Rachel: Yay! My favorite!

Andrew: I noticed that you have two major political forces. One is the Monarchy and the other is a Communist style government. What was the inspiration for picking these two. Generally it's Monarchy vs. Democracy. Why Communism?

Rachel: Good question! I based that part off of the transition from Tsarist to Communist Russia. I didn't stick with that theme completely, but I wanted to show how sometimes a group of people is looking for one or the other -- Communism or Democracy -- but they're not sure of what they want. Obviously there are factions within different groups who are certainly aiming for one direction or another, but my villains are playing off of the fact that this people (as a whole) wants to go for any kind of change. The resulting Communist government turns out to not even be all that communist by the time the evil dudes manipulate it for their own ends.

Andrew: Yes. I noticed.

Rachel: Hehe. Yeah, they basically end up with another monarchy-style dictatorship. Crap!

Andrew: Definitely! Personal question: You seem really interested in governments. Was this a major of study in college or just something you do for fun?

Rachel: Just for fun. I was very interested and involved when I was a teen, just because I was passionate about the world and where it's going, but as an adult I find it a little depressing. Fictional politics are much more fascinating. I still vote though, obvs. And when there’s something local that I really feel I can make a difference in, I participate.

Andrew: LOL.Good! Voting is important! Your story is very involved and the world is really well designed. Did you do a lot of world building before writing or did it come out as you wrote it?

Rachel: It came out as I wrote it, especially the Drei and the Desert People. They were both really tricky to write in COLDNESS, because most of their history and culture is saved for the second and third books, so all you really see is that some of the Serens view them harshly, in an almost racist way. I wanted that to be one of the tragic downfalls of the fact that Serengard is so strong -- this way that they tend to look down on people who are different, even while spouting ideals to the contrary -- but it was so close to home, because I've seen that in America. Really, it was tough. Even my main character has some growing and changing to do in this area, especially because she's not very patient, and she has never had the motivation to question a lot of the assumptions she grew up with.

Some of the other world-building, like the magical powers of Otreya -- and Trzl having inherited some herself — came to me at the last minute. Literally. Like, in my third revision. Also, the power the Orions hold over the people became more and more prominent the more times I revised.

That makes my process sound super scattered...probably because it is, ha! But that's how the worldbuilding works for me.

Andrew: Ooh! I didn't know Trzl had powers...

Rachel: It's only hinted at in COLDNESS. But it's pivotal, um...later.

Andrew: Good! Can't wait.

Rachel: It's one of the big reasons I follow her as a main character. She can be really frustrating, but a lot of that has to do with the inner turmoil she doesn't even know is happening. If readers are willing to stick it out with her, I'm hoping these little plot twists will make it pay off for them.

Andrew: Oh, she's an awesome character. I totally wanted to smack her repeatedly.

Rachel: That is SUCH a compliment. Really. *polishes tiara*

Andrew: The emotocons are huge squished faces on my screen. It's kind of creepy. o.O

Rachel: MINE TOO!! They are so weird.

Andrew: Speaking of the Drei. What was their inspiration or where you needing a culture that the Serengard could use as the scapegoat?

Andrew: Did you see my question or are you still wrangling children?

Rachel: Yes, saw them! Am trying to type but my kids just got into the electric toothbrushes and are brushing hair with them. One sec.

Andrew: ROTFL!

Rachel: Okay I've bribed them with milk. Should be good for a few mins. Whew!

About the Drei: At first I just wanted someone who was very different from the Serens. I invented the Drei to be serious and logical, almost emotionless, and also militaristic… whereas the Serens are passionate, love to party, and haven't had a standing army in forever. Once I had characters who were Drei, they took on their own identity as people with a natural knack for both war and for healing. I did get into supernatural elements a little bit, too. Them being the scapegoat just came about as the natural progression of the villain's plot: the fact that he couldn't go back on the Orion treaties without the Drei becoming angry, AND the Seren people were rightfully scared of their "epic skillz". The new government chose to strike first.

Andrew: Oh very cool. A lot of stuff gets developed for a novel (world, people, relationships) that don't have a place in the novel proper, but are still there. Besides the magic/religion (which I hope we see some in the 2nd book), what is something (non-spoilery) that you can tell us about either the world or a character that was behind the scenes, but didn't show up in the novel proper?

Rachel: The Swamp People were sort of half-lizard in my original draft, and the gypsies have had people with powers in their lineage that I touched on. I took out their development because it wasn't relevant at all, and instead focused mainly on the cliff folk. Also, the Orion family has some spiritualistic backstory, but I had to trim it from COLDNESS. Originally, I had a little bit of Mikel's perspective in there, and his love of culture lent to all kinds of historical commentary. I had to cut his POV for continuity reasons. But I promise much of the Orion elements are revisited in KNIGHTS OF RILCH.

Andrew: Oh awesome! The second novel has a title! And when will we be seeing the second part of the story?

Rachel: February 2014! I've already drafted it and am in the middle of major revisions. I'm even more excited about this one than COLDNESS…which means A LOT. It is has more action and a kick-butt warrior girl MC. So. *shrugs*

Andrew: WOOT! What's the timeline in regards to COLDNESS? much time has passed from first book to second?

Rachel: Almost four years. Can't tell your readers who the MC is yet (though I'm sure YOU can guess), but Trzl is thirty, Malcom is thirteen, and Colstadt is all mid-twenties and cool.

Andrew: LOL. I'm running out of questions! *whines* Is there anything you want to say that I haven't asked about?

Rachel: Hm, not really! You asked awesome questions. Thank you so much for having me! It was really fun. I love talking about this part of the story.

Andrew: Yes, it was!

Book Info:
Epic Fantasy
The First in the Serengard Series
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries—centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that its people no longer believe in. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is dedicated to turning the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion.
As the rebellion escalates, her choices have an eerie impact on the revolution at large, elevating her to a position of influence she has only dreamed of attaining. But there are downsides to her new power that entangle her in a dangerous web of emotions, appearances and alliances. Even as she plays to the attractions of Hodran, a rich nobleman who wants to aid her cause, she is drawn to Mikel, a loyalist farmer who hates the rebellion but just might be winning her heart.
By the time Trzl realizes she is in too deep, she has an infant son and a dark mess of betrayal and lies. She runs to the furthest corner of the kingdom in hopes that she will be left alone with her child, but she has created too many demons. A figure she once trusted will take her captive in the chilling Cliffs of Marek, throw her back into the political upheaval she helped create, and leave her at the mercy of a man she never wanted for an enemy.

Author Bio:
Obsessed with all things history, Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories and only recently fell in love with fantasy as a genre. She lives in New England with her husband and children, grows roses and tweets often. She adores lattes, The Fray, long drives in the country, and any dark story with a good twist. Coldness of Marek is her first novel.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 2013 #writemotivation Update No. 1

So, it's already the second full week of August and I haven't done an update yet.

I should be punished.

With this...because...bacon

Anyway, I'm slowly recovering from the surgery. I'm up to 30 degrees of flexibility down. Up is better as the ligament controlling that motion wasn't the one worked on. I have an appointment with the hand doctor next week and we'll see where we go from there. So, for the time being, I'm being abused by my physical therapist.

I told her we needed a safe word besides "Oh God, that hurts!" or "I hate you!" or "Please God, make it stop" or "Just chop the damn thing off, it'll hurt less!" because those things just make her laugh.

And now for August's goals:
  1. Write every day. This will be hampered by the wrist surgery, but still something I need to strive for. I haven't done this yet, but the wrist is still cumbersome to use because of the brace. However, it isn't so much in the way as to make writing impossible. So, I've been slow getting back to this point.
  2. Blog once a week. Yup! Haven't done the weekly updates, but I have had a couple blog posts a week since the beginning of the month.
  3. Cheer on my #writemotivation tweeps Getting better at this. Missed out on a few days because of the surgery and then plague
  4. Read two books. Er...I'm not sure I've read anything this month. I'll have to check.
  5. Participate in the Pay It Forward Giveaway (see button on the side-bar). YES! Had a lot of fun with it and hope to do it again soon.

'Till Next Time.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pay It Forward Giveaway for August 2013

An amazing friend of mine had an idea. It's a simple idea really. The act of helping others because you've been helped yourself. So she gathered a bunch of us together and encouraged us to help out. Of course, I signed up. I've gotten a lot of help and support from my twitter and #writemotivation friends out there. I think it is our responsibility as a writing community, to help each other.

We're all on the road to whatever dream we have. Some are further than others, but it isn't a race. There is no prize for finishing first.

So, here is what I'm offering.
A TEN page in-depth critique of your Novel AND an in-depth critique of your Query.



It's simple. The query gets your novel in the hands of an agent or editor. The first ten pages keeps them reading. It's not a guarantee of a sale, but it does make it easier.

So enter the giveaway, and maybe I can help.

This giveaway runs from today (August 1st) through August 3rd.

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'Till Next time.