Monday, 30 June 2014

The Meaning of Life and I

Today I turn 42 years of age. Does that mean I now know the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? Well, I do feel like I know a lot more than say ten years ago. On the other hand, I'm still baffled by many things. A lot of things. Perhaps that's how it's supposed to be?

One of the benefits of growing older is being more sure of what you want and like. What you don't want or like.

My favourite mug - a gift from a close friend

I'm learning to use the word 'no' more often, and making time in my busy schedule to do the things that make me happy. Why? Because there aren't many people in our lives who will do it for us. The simple truth is we have one life. There are no do-overs. We have to make every moment count. I'm not advocating being utterly selfish - other people do matter. Just make some 'me time' along the way.

Now back to turning 42 and birthdays. If money were no object and I was made of 'the right stuff', I'd like this view as a present. For real. As in a few days on the International Space Station.

Image taken by astronaut Reid Wiseman, NASA

Actually, scrub that idea. Truthfully, I'd just like a few more hours with the family and friends I've lost on this journey called life. Those people no longer with us in body, but always in our minds. I suspect most of us feel the same way.

What about you? What would be your ultimate birthday gift?

Friday, 27 June 2014

The Lost Kingdom Book Blitz & Competition

I'm really thrilled to have the wonderful and talented Stephanie Beerden on my blog today. I'm a huge fan. We also share the same superb cover designer, so her book cover rocks.



The Lost Kingdom
The Elements Series #1
By- Stephanie Beerden
Genre- YA Fantasy
Release Date- April 28th, 2014

A Prophecy made long ago, announced the arrival of the new Ladies of Elements.

And now almost a millennia later, it finally came true …

All her life Arima thought she knew who and what she was. That is until the day of her sixteenth birthday came and her world is turned upside down, when she’s told she’s not a White Witch but Lady Spirit. And that she is the one that has been foretold, will unite the Five Ladies of Elements once again and save Ilendia and the Other Lands from Ahriman, the Demon King.

At first Arima refuses to accept her new fate, but when Shanums come and destroy her village and kill her loved ones, she has no choice but to flee and fall right into the destiny she never wanted.

As she grudgingly starts her journey into the unknown, she is accompanied by her unicorn familiar Sirrim, Blythe, a Vampire with a dark past and Myrddin, a mysterious Ljosalfar.

And the longer her journey lasts, the more Arima begins to realise that she can’t escape her own destiny and she must learn to control her powers and learn to be a Lady for the sake of the Sisters she doesn’t know and the people of Ilendia and the Other Lands.

However, things get more complicated when Arima comes into the possession of a key. Her instincts compel her to go towards danger when she discovers that the key she holds, can unlock the legendary kingdom of Eléssima, the home of the Ladies of Elements.

She will have to make the choice to follow her instincts …

…or stay on the path that has been laid out for her.

  
   

Monday, 23 June 2014

You had me at "Hello" and lost me at "I don't like science fiction"

I'm always surprised by how few of my friends read science fiction. I shouldn't be surprised, though. Sales for my dark fiction collection far out number sales for my science fiction collection.


As with anything in life, reading preferences are subjective. What one person loves, another dislikes. There will always be certain genres that will be more popular. Certain themes that capture our imaginations en mass. Does that mean we should be writing for the most popular markets? Should I be concentrating on dark fiction because that's what sells?

No. I always stick to the old adage, 'Write what you love, not what will sell'. I know that sounds crazy, because we all want to sell books. We all want an army of readers and loyal fans. But writing for the market rather than what you love will show in the quality of your writing. The passion will be gone. Your enthusiasm depleted. And ironically, science fiction writers and TV shows like Star Trek and Firefly have some of the most devoted and loyal fans. It might take you longer to build that fan base, but if you keep publishing quality books they will come. You will sell books.

My passion lies with science fiction and anything space related. It's the one constant and unending fascination that has stayed with me since my age was a single digit. When people tell me they don't like or understand science fiction, I'm perplexed. I'm lost for words. But that's okay. I guess it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things.

If you want to read one person's fascinating take on why people do not read science fiction, click here. The most interesting point is the author's extrapolation that more left-handed people read science fiction than right-handed because of the way our brains function. I'm left-handed and so allegedly more able to understand science fiction. Hmm. I'm not sure. It would be interesting to know how many of my science fiction reading friends are left-handed, though. Do you read science fiction? Are you left-handed or right-handed?

While I'm talking about science fiction, have you been following the Mars One mission?


Mars One is a non-profit organisation that aims to establish a human settlement on Mars. Their goal is ambitious - they plan to start sending crews of four to Mars in 2024 - and they've received a fair amount of criticism. Though I think their timescales are overly ambitious, it is clear they are serious about achieving their goal. One of the aspects I find most fascinating is that those candidates chosen for the missions (they've already started the selection process) will not be coming back to Earth. Can you imagine the prospect of never returning home? Never being able to walk outside and feel the warmth of the Sun on your face? Never being able to see or have a real-time conversation with your families and friends? I'm not sure I could do it.

Could you go to Mars knowing you were never coming back?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Amazon Breakthrough Novel News & Booktrack Hugh Howey Competition

I have exciting news to share in this week's blog post, with potentially life-changing news for one particular writer you all know and love.


Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award




Hart Johnson's A Shot in the Light is one of the five mystery & thriller semi-finalists for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA)! This is major news, and I cannot congratulate her enough. As Hart told me, she's fairly giddy at the moment. Relish every moment, Hart.

What happens next?


On July 8, Amazon Publishing will announce the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Finalists and voting will begin for the Grand Prize winner. So, keep everything crossed Hart is chosen as her category's finalist and then get ready to vote. In the meantime, you can see details of all the semi-finalists here and download a free excerpt from her ABNA nominated novel.


Booktrack Hugh Howey Competition



Have you heard of Booktrack: Soundtracks for Books? I hadn't until I received an email from them after they'd read a sample of one of my stories. I usually ignore emails from sites recommending their products, because most of the time they're not relevant or are trying to trick you into something you don't need or want. However, the email was professionally worded and contained links (a quick Google search verified the site's authenticity). So, I had a nose around their site and liked what I found.

In short, you upload fiction, add music, ambient sounds and effects from their 1000s of tracks, thus creating a soundtrack for your writing. Then you share it with their community of readers. It's about creating a different experience for your readers.

What made me excited was seeing that Hugh Howey had uploaded Sand Part One, along with a soundtrack. And there's more for all those Hugh Howey fans out there. Backtrack, Wattpad, Writer's Digest, and Hugh Howey have teamed up for a truly unique contest.


Create a soundtrack for or fan fiction story (with soundtrack) for Howey's Halfway Home. The competition is free to enter and has two awesome prizes - $5000 and editorial feedback from Howey or $5000 and a chance to soundtrack Howey's The Hurricane. The competition closes on July 31st.

Are you tempted by the competition or to try creating a soundtrack for one of your stories? I am, by both options. Have you read Halfway Home? I already have the book in my TBR pile, so it's going to be read soon.

That's it for today's post, but I'd love to hear the news from your part of the world.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Tough Choices & Other News

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce I'm ceasing my Wednesday Speculative Fiction Writer posts - at least for the foreseeable future. While I love interviewing speculative fiction writers and sharing their amazing stories with you, blogging is eating up too much of my writing time. With work and other personal commitments, something has to give in order to make the time to write. Unfortunately, that something is my guest posts. I'm still happy to take part in the occasional cover reveal or blog tour. So, please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like my help.


Other News

My good friend and fellow Untethered Realms member, River Fairchild, has released another tantalizing morsel of creepiness - Darkest Days, Blackest Nights: Tales of lust. Greed. Vengeance. Death. Don't you love that title?



Midnight lasts a bit longer tonight, its shadow cold and bruised. The bell tower strikes a thirteenth time, extending an invitation to the Danse Macabre—the dance of death. Don’t tarry. The others are waiting, anxious to share their tales before the music ends. 

Stories of lust, greed, vengeance, and death. Journeys of power. Woes of the fallen. Retaliation. Atonement. Loss. 

Even now, Death works on his special tribute. 

Will you be one of the honored guests? Think carefully. It may be the last decision you’ll ever make.


Available at: Amazon, AmazonUK, Smashwords, Apple Store.

You can find River here.


Last week I told you about Heroes of Phenomena. Well, it's now live!


Available at Amazon, AmazonUK, Kobo, andSmashwords

That's it for today. Have you downloaded River's latest book? What about Heroes of Phenomena? What activities have you had to cease in order to make the time to write?

Friday, 6 June 2014

Are you ready for the Reborn blog tour & a cover reveal?

Today I'm thrilled to be hosting fellow Untethered Realms member Cherie Reich and the wonderful Carol Kilgore. Congratulations to them both!

Over to Cherie.



An Excerpt from Chapter Three of Reborn


“Babak said the boat from Amora has arrived.” Dad’s arm brushed against mine.

“Send him to the harbor. Have him tell them I’m not coming.” Our karshipta, a talking falcon-like bird, could deliver the message. I hated I wasted their time, but the priest, the ferryman, and that boy only had a three-day journey back to Amora.

“Yssa.” He dragged out my name, disappointment tainting the two syllables.

“I can’t, Dad.” I bolted from the bed and paced my room. “Amora doesn’t need me. The kingdom does just fine without a Phoenix Prophetess. Besides, you and Mom left Amora and never looked back. I’ll know no one there. And you said it was crowded. Thousands upon thousands of people live there. And—”

“We never wanted to leave Amora.” Dad ran his palm over his face. “I shouldn’t have badmouthed it, but the city really is quite beautiful with its golden and white buildings, its history, its people.”

“Then why did you go?” I turned on him and placed my hands on my hips. “You never talk of your life there, not like Mom.”

For a few sand grains, I hoped he’d finally tell me why they ran from everything they’d known for an island in the middle of nowhere, but he shook his head. “The reasons are too complicated and no longer matter. We are where we are, and you need to travel to the Place of Lordéhi. Apenth gave you a great gift. To not use it would be a grave insult to him and the other gods.”

“You made your choice to leave, though. Why can’t I do the same?” I clenched my fists by my sides. So some god saved my life and I was beholden to him for eternity? I didn’t think so.

Dad leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Yssa, what is your future if you don’t go?”

“I don’t know.”

“Try to foresee.”

I huffed and spun away from him. My hands clasped the windowsill. Such a pretty day. If today was like yesterday, I would walk to the Temple of Tamman and spend the day with Tym and the other priests. I’d talk to Apenth perhaps or catch a glimpse of other gods, such as Bella, Tamman’s consort, storming in to speak with him, or Inashara—Bella’s twin sister and Tamman’s love—sneaking into Tamman’s inner chambers. My eyelids fluttered closed, and I opened myself to Fate and what may come if I stayed in Guntas.

Kisses and professions of love with Tym. Jewelry making with Mom. Harvesting the crops with Dad. Apenth’s disapproving frown marring his handsome face. Prophecies unforetold. Lives lost. A goddess with twilight eyes and laughter on her lips. Flames and smoke and eating ashes.

I jerked away from the window. The room came into focus, including Dad. He patted the space beside him again. I sat and stared at my hands. A future of happiness and simplicity meant death and chaos for so many. I couldn’t let my fears and selfishness destroy so many people’s destinies. “I have to go.”




To save a kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.


On the day of Yssa’s death and rebirth, the god Apenth chose her as the Phoenix Prophetess.

Sea serpents and gods endanger the young prophetess’s journey and sour the omens. Yssa is cursed instead of blessed, and her duties at the Temple of Apenth prove it. She spends her days reading dusty scrolls, which does nothing to help her forget Tym, the boy back home. But the annoying yet gorgeous ferryman’s son Liam proves to be a distraction she can’t predict, even though he rarely leaves her alone for two sand grains.

Her boring temple life screeches to a halt when visions of her parents’ murders consume her. Yssa races across an ocean to stop the future. If she can’t change Fate, she’ll refuse to be the Phoenix Prophetess any longer. Fate, however, has other plans for her and the kingdom.

Yssa must either accept her destiny or fight to change Fate.

Available in Ebook and Print!


Click here to add on Goodreads.

The authors of Untethered Realms and I are giving away over $50 worth of books to one lucky winner. The giveaway is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio

A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her books include the horror collection Nightmare, a space fantasy novella collection titled Gravity, and the fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles and The Fate Challenges. Reborn is her debut novel. She is Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms. For more information, please visit her website.


Now over to Carol Kilgore for a stunning cover reveal.



Life was so simple—until she had to save one.


By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.

As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of the first lady’s dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.


Author Bio 

Carol writes grocery lists, texts to her family, new lyrics to old songs for her dogs, love notes to her husband, and novels for herself. And for you. In between, she blogs weekly at Under the Tiki Hut and is active on Facebook and Twitter.
She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially ones with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy.

Links
You can connect with Carol and her books here:

Thank you, Cherie and Carol. A thrilling excerpt and stunning cover reveal. That's it for this week. I'll be back on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Speculative Fiction Reads - Heroes of Phenomena, Tara Tyler, Tyrean Martinson, & M Pax

A different type of Speculative Fiction Writer post this week. Instead of highlighting just one writer, I'm doing a shout-out for some hot new speculative fiction releases coming this June.

Over to Samantha Geary to tell us about the first book:

Heroes of PHENOMENA

Where epic music, captivating tales and visionary art inspire the HERO in all of us!

FREE ebook Launching soon.


Heroes of Phenomena_Jennifer Redstreake Geary.jpg


Welcome to Heroes of Phenomena, with my favorite composer gang over in Hollywood and leaders of the film music advertising industry, audiomachine! As part of a global, cross-industry promotional project for audiomachine’s upcoming public release, PHENOMENA—by celebrated composer, Paul Dinletir—we’re introducing a groundbreaking campaign to encourage the next generation of authors, artists & musicians! With each download of the upcoming FREE PHENOMENA companion ebook, audiomachine will make a donation to the LA Youth Orchestra. The ebook will also feature a dedicated YOUTH section, showcasing the talents of aspiring artists and authors from the gifted students of Elevate’s Life & Art Studios!

Winning authors & artists of PHENOMENA’s EPIC HEROES CONTEST will be joining our innovative & inspiring event, alongside these amazing industry professionals: Authors Susan Kaye Quinn, M. Pax, Amy Willoughby-Burle, Jessica Bell, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Ruth Long, Darynda Jones, Crystal Collier, Samantha Redstreake Geary & C.Lee McKenzie

phenomena-cover.jpg

PHENOMENA Available NOW!

Itunes / Amazon / CD Baby



Samantha blogs at Writerly Sam, and can be found at facebook, and Twitter.


Broken Branch Falls

MG Fantasy
Releasing June 24th.

Gabe is an average fifteen-year-old goblin. He’s in the marching band, breezes through calculus, and gets picked on daily by the other kids at school, especially the ogres. He’s tired of being a goblin – he’d like to try other things. And he has his eye on the new ogress at school. It’s against all beastly rules, but there’s just something about her.
When a prank goes wrong, Gabe is forced to join the football team as punishment, but finds a way to make it work. Soon the whole school is getting in on the fad of mingling with other species. Too bad the adults decide to step in and ruin things, threatening to destroy the school and split up Broken Branch Falls. And Gabe is their scapegoat. With help from other outcast friends, Gabe sets out on a quest hoping to saving Broken Branch Falls. After all this trouble, it better work.

Add it to your GOODREADS list!

You can find Tara here: Twitter / Facebook / Blog.


Champion in Flight


Champion in Flight is the second book in The Champion Trilogy.

Release date: June 2nd.



A year after she won the battle for Septily, Clara feels trapped in Skycliff by the Allied Council. As the last pieces of information about the Healing Caves fall into place, Clara is attacked by an assassin. Covert Drinaii mercenaries and the Council aren’t going to stop Clara from her quest to heal her broken blade. As Champion of Aramatir, she must act.

Meanwhile, in the joint kingdoms of Rrysorria and Wylandria, the youngest and still cursed swan prince despairs of ever being whole again. In a moment of anger and desperation, Liam discovers a blood link between him and a dark sorceress. 

Clara won the battle for Septily, but her battle isn’t over. 


CHAMPION IN FLIGHT: Amazon / Smashwords / Goodreads.

You can find Tyrean here: Blog.


Finally, a summer competition!


In celebration of summer, M. Pax is giving away three sets of audiobooks. Each set includes: The Backworlds, Stopover at the Backwords' Edge, and The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear.

Make the road, make your travel, fun and entertaining. Contest runs through June 16th. Sign up below.

COMPETITION CLOSED


That's it for today. Cherie Reich and her Reborn Blog Tour will be dropping by this Friday. Until then, happy reading and writing.

Guess who met Simon Pegg? Me!

Last week I spent three days on holiday in London. While I was there, I passed within a few feet of J.J. Abrams and had my photograph taken with Simon Pegg. Yes. I'm still pinching myself. I also met up with fellow writer and until last week just a virtual friend, Mark Knight. Here's a few highlights from one of the best holidays of my life.

Gladiator Live at the Royal Albert Hall
 - a screening of the film with a live orchestra.


The Royal Albert Hall at night.


A visit to the Science Museum.


Exploring Space, by far the best exhibition.


They even had a model of the Enterprise.


The Apollo 10 Command Module, on loan from NASA.


A 3D Earth projection that changed from day to night.


Loved this traditional English Ballard about the world being upside down. Please read it.


I dressed up as an astronaut!


The main event - Star Trek Live at the Royal Albert Hall.



The screening was introduced by J.J. Abrams, Michael Giacchino, and Simon Pegg. By chance, our door into the RAH was next to the stage door. An eagle-eyed Mark Knight spotted J.J. Abrams getting out of his car. Yes. We both acted like school children and were quite overcome with emotion. 


Photographs taken during the screening. 



Finally, I ran into Simon Pegg after the event. Despite being asked by numerous people to have his picture taken with them, he was an absolute gentleman. My new hero.


So, that was my trip to London. I shall never forget it, that's for sure. I'm now working on raising the money to attend Destination Star Trek in October. I have to go.

It's back to work this week for me. A return to normality. What are your plans for this week and for June? I've set myself a daily word count of 750 this month. I want to add a 22,500 word count by my birthday on June 30th. Wish me luck. Also, if you see me frequenting Facebook, kick me off.