Friday, May 26, 2017

Goals Update, Hero Lost, and Spoonman

It's sad, but I had to go back to the end of April to look for my May goals. Sheesh. It's kind of hard to actually do goals when I don't keep them in front of me. Thankfully, I started looking at them again on the 19th. 

So, here they are. Let's see how I did with them.

May Goals:
1. Continue to heal, rest, get renewed. - Yes, I did this. I had an interesting convo with my doctor who told me that I have a total of six months of healing to do to get to 100%. 

2. Market Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life Anthology - Yes.

3. Prepare for my oldest daughter's high school graduation. - Barely yes. There's still more to do. Thankfully, she's graduating twice - our homeschool co-op does a sweet ceremony (18 grads this year participating), and she'll graduate from the local community college with a diploma and an A.A. degree simultaneously on the 17th of June. 

4. Cheer at my youngest daughter's kayaking race in Canada - oops, no. My husband went and cheered while I stayed home to go to a series of events for a missionary who was visiting our church that weekend. This included a catch-up talk on using the Storytelling Method. 

5. Take care of a pile of paperwork that built up while I've been sick - some. It procreated at some point - I know it.

6. Plant something that likes wet roots - well, no. But, my mom did give me a gerarnium for mother's day and it's surviving in our raised garden bed.

7. Work on either Captain Wrath or The Greenling Chronicles and work out the weird world-building/dryad obsession issues. - Yes. I went with The Greenling Chronicles and thought out themes within the whole dryad idea. 

8. Go barefoot outside at least one day or stomp in puddles (weather permitting) - yes, although I just went barefoot on our deck.

9. Keep reading Cling to God - a great devotional by Lynda Young. - yes!

10. Finish reading Chapter from Chapter - the IWSG Goodreads book of the month. - yes. It's an excellent book on the writing craft and the writing life. 

June Goals: 
1. Heal, renew, walk, and take tiny bike rides. Specific walking goal: get to 2.5 miles a day 5 days a week by the end of the month. Specific bike goal: get to 3 miles a day 3 days a week by the end of the month. (And, take celebratory wandering walks!)

2. Continue to Market Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life and other works. Specifically, to use twitter, facebook groups, and google groups, and plan on attending one writing conference/event over the summer months.

3.  Watch my oldest graduate. Have a party! Celebrate!

4. Go to a Montana State University Registration and Orientation session with my oldest daughter.

5. Watch both daughters race at the Ted Houk Regatta in Seattle.

6. Clean up the yard and house. (as able)

7. Go barefoot.

8. Continue working on The Greenling Chronicles

9. Keep reading Cling to God.

10. Sort through job and teaching stuff. Prepare for next fall.

11. Practice Storytelling.

Eleven seems a bit hefty, but I'm hoping that 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 are restful enough to make the others go easier. I can think of several other things I could/should be doing ... but I'm trying to stay focused and not over-do.

Do you have goals for June or for the summer?

Have you read Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life? I highly recommend all the stories by my fellow authors and I'm thankful for all the support we've received! 
Barnes and Noble

The Hero Lost Blog Tour is at these sites this week!
May 22 - Christine Rains - Interview 
May 22 - Nick Wilford - Guest Post  
May 24 - Toi Thomas - Interview

And, although it isn't related to goals, I want to simply say RIP Chris Cornell. I liked the sound of Soundgarden. My favorite song was "Spoonman," partly because I've seen the spoonman Artis play at Pike Place Market several times in Seattle and because my grandmother played spoons. She tried to teach me - especially after we watched Artis play spoons - but I didn't have the patience to learn. After Chris Cornell's death, I went on a bit of rabbit trail of reminiscing and ended up discovering that Artis (the spoonman) is still street busking. It feels like story material - all of this - but it's also some of the everyday pathos of life.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Writing Studies and Hero Lost Blog Tour Continues!

As I've been healing up from two surgeries, I've started to study the craft of writing more intentionally,

Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers is being discussed at Goodreads (since last week) with the IWSG Goodreads group and I found it to be a great read. I didn't agree with Sellers on all points, but I found that when I disagreed and took notes, I honed my own thoughts on writing to a fine edge. I do love most of the book and agreed with many of her thoughts and tips. I marked with pen and pencil, dog-eared for special places (nearly every page in certain chapters), and I did 70% of the exercises, which is pretty good for me with a writing craft book. I can see applying different exercises at different times in my writing life. While I read this book, I laughed, I thought, I snorted, I shook my head, I almost wept over one part, and I wrote. In short, it was wonderful.

I don't know what the next IWSG Goodreads book will be, but since I already have a copy of Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine, I'm working on that one. I actually started it midway through Chapter after Chapter because I needed a different approach for some of my current WIP. Think to Ink has some fantasy-friendly writing exercises that fit with The Greenling Chronicles (book 1 of a series). Levine's book also has good general writing advice and exercises found in her sections. I'm currently in her section on Character Building (chapters 4-9).

The one part that I keep coming back to from Chapter after Chapter is Chapter 21: Braids. I loved so much of the entire book, but this chapter hit me right in the gut of my current WIP. I needed this chapter and I keep referring back to it as I'm writing. I would love to share the whole chapter, but I know that is wrong, so I'll just give you a few bits here:

"Braided books (or articles or stories) are made up of three or four strands of storyline .... You tell three stories, bit by bit. The juxtapositions lend life and suprise, tension and drama. ... Things stay fresh and lively and manageable."

Oddly, I think I knew this by instinct (from reading) when I wrote Champion in the Darkness, but somehow I forgot it by the time I started writing the last few novels I've attempted. Last year's novel disaster still smarts. I never shared much of it because getting that far in a project and then dumping it is just painful - like an early romance just gone wrong. I think that my best parts of my Captain Wrath WIP include braids, but then somewhere in there, I lost the sense of them and end up with a snarl (fitting for the Captain, but not good for the novel). Although I do want to go back and unsnarl, or at least re-braid Captain, I'm determined to finish The Greenling Chronicles book 1 with a decent braided outline for the rest of the series before I return to the Captain's side.

With Greenling, I have Dunnie, the villain, and the writings of his family and friends. Ray's comics are an important piece but I can't draw so I'm hoping I can find a publisher that will be excited about combining text with comic book pages - at least in a one comic book page every chapter kind of way. I've also been tossing around the idea of including a "science and quest journal" from Dunnie's mom in this first book - she leaves him with his Gran so she can go on a bit of a quest and then she goes missing and leaves her journal behind.

I really want to include different types of imagery and text for this novel. That's one of my big ideas behind it - not a theme, as much as a hope to draw in more visual, artistic readers. I've met a handful of young readers this last year who prefer graphic novels to text novels and I would love to tackle a crossover graphic and textual novel style book for a MG to early YA age group.

Have you ever read a book that contained comic book or graphic novel elements? Am I biting off more than I can chew with my wild crossover idea?

Have you read Chapter after Chapter or another writing craft book lately?

Go Here for the IWSG Goodreads discussion.

Hero Lost - the Blog Tour is happening at these sites this week!
May 22 - Christine Rains - Review 
May 22 - Nick Wilford - Guest Post 
May 24 - Toi Thomas - Interview

Friday, May 19, 2017

Twenty-four Days Book Tour with Jacqui Murray!

My question for Jacqui: 
Is the tech included in the book really possible?
Absolutely. It takes real laws of physics—science in general—and extrapolates intelligently on those to what could be if there was time and money. It follows the model of what is commonly referred to as Star Trek Science. But in the case of Twenty-four Days science, you don’t have to wait centuries. It’ll probably be around in a matter of decades.

You can say you read about it first in Twenty-four Days.

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don't know what it is, where it is, or who's involved.
What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the sentient artificial intelligence who thinks he's human:
An unlikely team is America's only chance
World-renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Zeke Rowe is surprised when a friend from his SEAL past shows up in his Columbia lab and asks for help: Two submarines have been hijacked and Rowe might be the only man who can find them.
At first he refuses, fearing a return to his former life will end a sputtering romance with fellow scientist and love of his life, Kali Delamagente, but when one of his closest friends is killed by the hijackers, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI Otto who possesses the unique skill of being able to follow anything with a digital trail.
In a matter of hours, Otto finds one of the subs and it is neutralized.
But the second, Otto can’t locate.
Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Salah Al-Zahrawi--the world’s most dangerous terrorist and a man Rowe thought he had killed a year ago, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch.
And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.
As America teeters on the brink of destruction, Zeke finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t nuclear war, but payback against the country that cost him so much.
Kirkus Review:
A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to MI6 special agent Haster. ... A steady tempo and indelible menace form a stirring nautical tale

What customers are saying about this series:
One thing I enjoyed about this read is the technical reality Murray created for both the scientific and military aspects of the book. I completely believed the naval and investigatory hierarchy and protocols, as well as the operation inside the sub. I was fascinated by her explanation of Otto's capabilities, the security efforts Kali employs to protect her data, and how she used Otto's data to help Rowe.

The research and technical details she included in this book had me in complete awe. A cybervirus is crippling submarines--and as subs sunk to the bottom of the ocean, I found myself having a hard time breathing. It's up to Zeke and Kali to save the entire country using their brains. If you love thrillers, this is definitely one you can't miss!

Book information:
Title and author: Twenty-four Days by J. Murray
Genre: Thriller, military thriller
Available at: Kindle USKindle UKKindle Canada
Author bio:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.
Quote from author:
What sets this series apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the Naval battle that relies on not just fire power but problem solving to outwit the enemy.
Social Media contacts:

Have you met Jacqui? Have you read Twenty-Four Days? Do you like books that reveal cool technological possiblities?

And, did you know that the Hero Lost blog tour is in these spots this week:
May 15 - Alex J. Cavanaugh - Interview
May 15 - Juneta Key - Spotlight Post
May 17 - Nicki Elson - Interview
May 19 - Chrys Fey - Guest Post

Plus, the Goodreads IWSG discussion has started for Chapter after Chapter and the interview with Heather Sellers is here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Marked Beauty Cover Reveal!


Publisher: Ellysian Press
Release Date: October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.
Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.
Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.
After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.
As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.


About the Author
S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at
Connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads

This is a #hashtag giveaway, where two lucky winners will receive a FREE eBook of Marked Beauty upon its release.
To participate:
  • Share one of the premade images via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or write up a blog post using one of the images.
  • Include #MarkedBeauty in your description.
  • Optional for extra entry: include Add to Goodreads (with link) in your description.
***Posts MUST contain the hashtag #MarkedBeauty for entry into the giveaway or we won’t be able to find you.
Pre-made tweets (you add the image)
"A lust 4 life energy. An ancient curse. One soul's journey thru death 2 find the cure." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal
"Uncovering some secrets can kill you, or worse ... steal your soul." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal #YAlit
An ancient race. A timid girl. And a journey to the in-between. #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal #YAlit
The giveaway begins May 17th and will be open until May 23rd. Winners will be announced May 24th via social media.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Character Interview: Widow Larkin #IWSGanthology #OfWordsandSwords #HeroLost

Please welcome Widow Larkin for a character interview. Widow Larkin is from "Of Words and Swords" in the Hero Lost: Myteries of Death and Life anthology.

Tyrean: Widow Larkin, why don’t you tell us about how Maud came to live in your attic?

Widow Larkin: I take in lost strays and he seemed lost.

Tyrean: I thought he had –

Widow Larkin: He thought a dark attic would help him in his endeavors. I had such an attic.

Tyrean: Do you think it helped?

Widow Larkin shrugs: I can’t say, really. I’m not into that sort of thing.

Tyrean: Really? I thought in your profession words would be of use.

Widow Larkin: There are words and there are words. Some are useful for one profession and not another.

Tyrean: I see. So, you’re saying that specialized language helps in what you do?

Widow Larkin: Some. I’m more musical in my craft.

Tyrean: I thought that Maud was –

Widow Larkin: He had hopes, but we should not speak of that now.

Tyrean: So, what can we talk about?

Widow Larkin: There really isn’t much, unless you want me to give something away.

Tyrean: Something about you and not Maud?

Widow Larkin: All will be revealed in time.

Widow Larkin starts humming a sweet melody and walks out of the room to the sea.

found on Pinterest. Couldn't find original source.

Okay then. I guess I should let readers know that you can find out more about the secretive Widow Larkin in “Of Words and Swords” from Dancing Lemur press in the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life anthology.

Last Friday, Ellen Jacobson hosted Renee and I for an interview about cookies and adventures. :) The Hero Lost Anthology authors are going strong!