Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Brain and the Ladies of Space

   After releasing my last book, I decided to give my brain the summer off. You see, as I've mentioned before, hot weather is incompatible with my brain. There was no way that I was going to be able to do justice to the all important middle book of the series, so I set the town of Blackbird aside and decided to see what else I might work on.
   Originally, I'd planned to write a cute little memoir about all the crazy and unexplainable things I've seen in my life, but I decided I wasn't quite ready for that. I also had a young adult fantasy story about an odd young girl who mysteriously appears in a small southern town right around the same time that a bunch of suspicious fires are started. I decided that while I had some beautiful scenes worked out, I didn't really have enough of a plot to create a compelling story... Yet. So my thoughts drifted back to Princess Robot Commander. Rather, the story that I decided needed a different name.
   For a while, I worked on this, rewriting the first six chapters, changing from first to third person narrative, and deciding if this would indeed end up a trilogy. And then I was distracted. I found a small flash piece I had written last year and decided that I would turn it into something bigger.
   What I now have on my hands is two very different leading ladies vying for my attention now that I really have to get back to the Rise of the Discordant series. I'm not quite ready to put either of them away, but if I want to finish the series by next Halloween, I've got to buckle down. So what I've decided is that I won't put them away entirely. I typically have to step away from the Discordant series when I'm hitting major roadblocks, so they can provide my distractions.
   However, when I say these ladies are different, I mean it. Not that I'm exactly a cookie cutter author. I relish the ability to write in whatever the hell genre I want. That being said, I'd like to give each of my girls a chance to present themselves. Below is a description of each character and what their story is about. I'd like to know your thoughts. Which one intrigues you more? Which story do you think I absolutely must write first? Why? Without further ado....

Ellie Whitmore
   Ellie is your average college student. Sort of. She's the daughter of a famous supermodel and her stepfather is a big deal Hollywood director. Oh, and she's a bit of a giant at six feet four inches. And she has this terrible skin condition that cause white dots to form all over her body in geometric patterns. Especially on her face. Oh, and her full name is El'iadrylline Kyroibi Whitmore. Okay, so there's nothing average about Ellie at all, but hey, lots of humans are a little different, right?
   About that. See,  although she was born on Earth, Ellie is not exactly human. She's not at all human. She's the daughter of a princess from another planet in the Sagittarius arm who went into hiding when her husband was assassinated. But before his death, he hid a very important key in the genetic imprint that would become Ellie. Now, the same madman who killed her father is after her, having discovered that she is the key that could bring him ultimate power over the universe. Or at least the key that commands a giant army of robot assassins.
   To make matters worse, the power the key wields is immense and addicting to anyone who is not meant to hold it. This means that her own mother (who held the key while Ellie was still a developing tadpole) is also after her Lucky Charms. The only person who seems to have Ellie's best interest in mind is the genetically engineered assassin who was sent to kill her and even he is full of secrets.
   And if making matters worse wasn't bad enough, there's Bethany, an obnoxious New Yorker and Ellie's best friend who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ellie now has to save her friends and family, release her people from enslavement, find the army of robots she holds the key to command, and take out the evil overlord. And here she thought failing organic chemistry was the worst thing that could happen to her!

Narissa Fox
   Narissa is human, but she wasn't born on Earth. She comes to us from the near distant future of the late twenty second century, after humans have colonized the entire solar system and our numbers have grown into the high trillions. The class divide has gotten even bigger and due to our sheer number and insatiable need to expand, exploitation of the lower class is a given.
   Narissa is a Navigational Reconnaissance Pilot, or NRP for short. Amongst NRPs, this stands for No Return Plotted. Narissa and others like her were culled from the prison colony of Farfalla. Farfalla is where the brightest criminal minds are held until there is a need to put them to work doing something dangerous that requires quick thinking.  Narissa is a criminal, but she is not bright. She was never intended for Farfalla.
  She was a small time thief and a drug addict that made Keith Richards look like an amateur. As her punishment, Narissa was supposed to go through Humane Occupational Rehabilitation, which is anything but humane. She is carved up and patched up until she looks exactly like Marilyn Monroe and is scheduled to be lobotomized. After, she is to be sent to a luxury colony where she is to become a sex worker. Humans suck, don't they?
   However, she catches the eye of one of the guards from Farfalla and he fakes her intelligence test scores to get her into his colony, where he does unspeakable things and she doesn't even have the luxury of being lobotomized. But soon enough his deception is revealed and she is rescued. Sort of. The scientist of Farfalla aren't going to let an unlobotomized brain go to waste.
   Stripped of her 'enhancements' and left looking like the Elephant man after losing a fight with the Hulk, Narissa is given a ship with a learning AI, auto navigation, and a medicine cabinet the size of a walk in pantry, stocked with all manner of drugs, some legal, some lethal. Her job is to drop transmission outposts in the uncharted space outside the solar system. NRPs have a zero percent retirement rate thanks to the fact that they are cheaper and more expendable than drone ships.
   At the beginning of the book, Narissa and Buddy, her ship's AI, have just gone down the proverbial rabbit hole and ended up in pink space that sends Buddy's sensors into a tailspin. Narissa copes by taking a near lethal dose of everything and accidentally navigates them through what had been a trap. Her ship is captured and she finds herself the prisoner of a colony of former NRPs who escaped by passing along coded information about how to navigate a particularly ornery wormhole.
   Anyone else who came through was sent into the pink space trap and assumed dead. Narissa is the first person to escape what should have been impossible. Seeing as she is also NRP, they release her on the condition that she join their militia who is hellbent on waging war against the ruling class of the solar system. Narissa doesn't want to be stuck in prison and she likes the idea of revenge against those that put her into the situation she found herself in, but there's just one problem with joining the resistance: She's ordered to go through rehab.

Like I said, different as night and day. Ellie's story will be light space opera with a romantic subplot. Narissa's story is much darker, may or may not involve romance, but will definitely involve sex, drugs, and a foul mouth. I may consider a slightly altered pen name.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Write On! Special Book Launch Edition: Hollow Towns by Ann Livi Andrews

Hi everyone! Today we're giving the robots and vampires the day off and instead, introducing you to the highly anticipated apocalyptic tale from everyone's favorite Supreme Overlord, Ann Livi Andrews. I've mentioned Ann before as she is the mastermind behind Support Indie Authors. She's also the author of several fantasy tales ranging from the contemporary Rehab for Superheroes series to the magical fairy tale like world of her Two Land series. But today, we're talking about Hollow Towns, a near future apocalypse thriller. First, let's take a look at this amazing cover:

 Beautiful, isn't it? And sinister. Having had a chance to get a sneak peek at the story, I'm going to tell you that this cover sets the atmosphere perfectly. But enough of my rambling. Let's turn it over to Ann for a behind the scenes and sneak peek:

Welcome to Hollow Towns: a book that has taken me nine years and countless revisions to finally complete and publish.

Even though I wasn’t actively working on Hannah and Charlie’s story for the full nine years, it’s been an exhausting journey. Each time I went through to edit, the story seemed to take a completely different turn than I expected. What is it about works in progress that seem to write themselves regardless of your intentions for them?

The lesson that I’m trying to take away from my first two full length novels taking me over nine years to write and publish, is that despite the ups and downs I’ve been through in life, writing has been a constant. I’ve never given up on it and it’s never given up on me. With each revision I went through with Hollow Towns, my experiences changed not only the plot, but my main characters and the emotion behind the book.

But my excitement with completing a book is always a little bittersweet. Now I have to choose another project to finish and I have to say goodbye (at least for a little while) to the characters I’ve grown so attached to.

From the back of the book:
The end didn’t come swiftly as media and literature had predicted. There was no deadly virus released to wipe out humanity. There was no meteor on course to collide with earth. There was no Biblical flood or fire and brimstone. And there was no army of the undead to rise up against the living.

In fact, no one knew where or when it began. It was suspected to have first occurred in some remote village without the means to report what was happening. Even when it began to be reported, no one understood what was happening, so no one was alarmed. They were just lightning storms. First came a thick, gray cloud covering that blocked out the entire sky and all light. Then the steady and unending drizzle of rain that never turned into a downpour, but never lightened up either. Then there were reports of lightning. But no one took notice. After all, who cared about a mild storm? It wasn’t until the cloud bank reached Spain, and then France, that the panic began to rise.

Scientists called it a climate shift, but even they couldn’t explain how it was destroying entire cities or why there were very few bodies found. Paranormal experts claimed extraterrestrial visits and mass abductions. Conspiracy theorists believed the government was concealing either a massive war that was quickly escalating and approaching the United States or a government funded weather control experiment had grown to an uncontrollable scale. The religious believed, wholeheartedly, that it was the Second Coming.

But when the thick cover of clouds and the steady rain reached American soil, people stopped looking for the root cause and began trying to find a means of survival. In the end it didn’t matter whether a family had boarded up their house, hid in a basement, secured themselves in a panic room, fled to the country, or found a cave or underground bunker that they thought would protect them. It found them just the same as it had everyone else. And the cities that had once stood out so brightly against the darkness were now just as silent and hollow as every other town, village, farmhouse, hut, and tent around the world.

Sneak Preview Excerpt:
Lucy felt herself begin to shake, but kept her teeth clamped shut. She closed her eyes tightly and prayed that they were gone and wouldn’t return for her.
Get up.
She shook her head and clutched her legs to her chest even tighter. They hadn’t found her. Maybe they wouldn’t find her. Better to hide than to run.
Feeling a shiver of adrenaline, she stood. This must be what the fight or flight reflex felt like. Anxiety hit her full in the stomach. She couldn’t stay here, waiting for them to return. The last standing building in town, an obvious hiding spot.
She opened the door a little wider and peered out. Empty. Quiet. No shadows. No eerie faces spying in through the windows.
Anticipating the jingle of the door at any moment, she knelt down and crawled her way out of the closet. If she stayed low enough, they couldn’t see her. If she moved slowly until she reached the door, then maybe she could outrun them in the open.
The rational side of her screamed into her head. She should be hiding. Staying still. She didn’t know who they were or what they wanted. Why did she think she could outrun them?
But she knew if she stayed here, the anxiety would drive her insane. And so she crept forward. As she reached the final aisle, she thought she heard a noise outside the door. Heart racing, she froze. The jingle would come any moment.
But it didn’t. Nor did any other sound. No voices. No footsteps.
Slowly, she stood. And right before her head cleared the shelves, the most horrifying sound she’d ever heard filled her ears.

Hollow Towns will be available August 1, 2015

Connect with Ann:

Twitter: @annliviandrews
Pinterest: annlivi
Goodreads: AnnLiviAndrews

Monday, July 20, 2015

My (not so) Gritty Reboot

If you don't already know, and somehow managed to ignore the graphic directly above this text, I recently went through and did a major update to my series, The Eyes of The Sun. Yes, the second "The" is still deliberately capitalized, however, in the text itself, it sometimes is and sometimes is not. That part hasn't really changed. What has changed includes the spiffy covers you see above, the formatting (making all of the font sizes and indents uniform and in line with all of my more recent books), and another round of major edits, especially for Eyes, which for whatever reason, was my problem child. Because of this, I'm dedicating this week to making some noise with the intention of drawing you in and piquing your curiosity about this series.

To do this, I have planned to release some bonus materials. What do I mean by bonus materials? Well, for one, there's this:

This, minus the fleur de lis, was my original cover concept. The image was a combination of three photos that either I or my husband took in New Orleans and Paris. Looking back, it probably would have worked out better than the original cover I uploaded (which can be found here), but I allowed myself to be talked out of using it because the images were too morbid and reminded my test audience of the holocaust. 

Additionally, through the magic of Google Drive and my paranoid tendency to hoard back up copies of everything, I have deleted and alternate scenes. Granted, most of this is not fit to see the light of day, and what I am willing to share has not gone through an edit, but I managed to find a few interesting tidbits. Note that Panic contains spoilers if you have not yet read The Eyes of The Sun.

And of course, no post in complete without Easter Eggs. I had posted some earlier this spring and they can be read here. But I can't believe I missed the biggest Easter egg of all. 
I found this CD Rom game at Half Priced Books not long after publishing Bluebeard's Children and two things struck me. One, the plot of this game is pretty much the plot of Bluebeard's Children if I had decided to market to tween girls. And Two, Clover, Alex, and Sam look a heck of a lot like my vampire trio of Ingrid, Kaylee, and Layla. So naturally, as I was writing Mother of Darkness, I added the names Clover, Alex, and Sam into the book. 

Check back later in the week when I post a special bonus short story about Lucy's parents that is bound to make you cry and hate me. No, I'm actually being serious. It's sad.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Write On! Indie Book Review #6: These Books Have Cooties

The other day I realized it has been a long time since I've written a Write On! Review post, even though I've read a whole lot of books recently. Well, part of that has to do with the fact that I'm actually woefully behind in posting reviews to both Amazon and Goodreads and part of that has to do with the fact that I've spent the last month in social media limbo after my tablet blew up. (For more on that, read my guest post about techno-dependency on S.K. Thomas' blog)

So... To make up for this, I've decided to do a super-sized Write On! and yes, as the title suggests, these books are written by men. For those just tuning in, Write On! has traditionally been reserved for reviews of science fiction and fantasy books by female authors. Every so often I've allowed a dude to sneak in under the radar, but this time, I've opened the gates. Of course, because every once in a while I let a male author sit at the girl's table, I've also put female author on this list as well. What follows is a list of super authors that I've recently enjoyed that you should definitely check out.

D. E. Morris, author of Aliens in the Gift Shop
Looking for fun, lighthearted and quirky science fiction that reads easily yet still packs in the science? Then this is the book for you! Aliens in the Gift Shop tells of two alien scientists on an exploratory mission to earth that goes slightly awry, as well as the human woman (and owner of said gift shop) who gets caught up in their shenanigans. Once you read, you'll definitely want to see more of Marcy, Quigbat, and Zort, so lucky for you, the sequel, Aliens and the Race to Earth is coming out on July 20th!

Dwayne Fry, author of Ladybug Boy and a whole mess of other stories.
Okay, picking just one of Mr. Fry's stories out of the nearly two dozen he's published is incredibly difficult. Like so many of us, Fry decided to indie publish because he didn't want to be shoehorned into a single genre. While I would say the majority of his stories are satire, there's also quite a few horror, general lit, and now he has paranormal as well. Ladybug Boy falls into the category of general lit and I picked this one because I've just recently finished and have yet to write a review. The tale takes place in the mid eighties and made me incredibly embarrassed as I realized that my awkward junior high period was probably even more awkward than poor Lola's, but that's exactly what I loved about it. This particular story is part of a series that will eventually lead to a full length novel and I'm looking forward to reading soon.

Ryan Guy, author of Atomic Aardvark
Still looking for quirky? The last two authors not quirky enough for you? Well, how about the story of an epic battle between a skunk and an aardvark, each of whom acquires super powers from a combination of a meteor shower and toxic waste? Oh, and there's also a pair of star crossed internet dating app users who may or may not be able to get their heads out of their own butts long enough to figure their love life out, but really, this story is all about Aardy, the Atomic Aardvark.

Riley Amos Westbrook, author of Breath of Titans: Little Black Stormcloud
There's something about epic fantasy that I simply don't like and it has everything to do with the snooze fest that is Tolkien. It's pretty obvious that Westbrook loves Tolkien and was heavily influenced by his work. Lucky for us, he's not a giant bore and writes fun characters who are not full of themselves (mostly because they are full of intoxicating spirits) and are interesting enough that we care what happens to them. In a world of orcs and fairies, a half-dragon half-elf named Lov must quest to find out what happened to his mother and find the one who killed his father. Lov is easy to... Well... Love. He's young and wet behind the ears. He's also impulsive and given to fits as most teens (and I suspect most dragons) are, but that is all part of his charm. That, and there are fairies. Fairies who seem to exist for no other reason than to annoy Lov's uncle Nord, who is also a fun character. Seriously, even if you aren't a fantasy fan, check this one out.

Charles Hash, author of Nascent Decay
Are you a fan of space horror? Did you love the film Alien? No? What's wrong with you? Nascent Decay has all of the elements of classic horror, but tells a unique tale of what happens when the human mind is pushed beyond its limits. The heroes are flawed and the antagonists are utterly merciless, as is the author in lulling the audience into a false sense of security before gutting us once again. A sequel is currently in the works. Until then, I recommend checking out Mr. Hash's short stories as well.

David M. Kelly, author of Dead Reckoning and Other Stories
Looking for sci-fi of a more classic variety? How about tales that would be at home in the Twilight Zone? Then this is the collection you'll want to read. There's everything from the chilling title story of karma coming 'round to bite you in the butt, to the heart wrenching How Much is that Doggy, to one incredibly groan worthy pun. Sadly, it isn't out until July 28th, but before then, you can check out Mr. Kelly's other short works, some of which will be featured in the collection.

V. M. Sawh, author of Cinders
This is not the Cinderella story of your childhood. Here you will find no Disney princess. Instead, what you'll find is a gothic tale that in many ways is much closer to the original and mostly morbid original Aschenputtel. What you'll also find is a darkly beautiful tale and expert storytelling. Cinders is part of the Good Tales for Bad Dreams series, which puts a very different spin on these well known stories.

Kat Caffee, author of Out of the Darkness
As I said, to keep things fair, I had to put a female author in with this group of fellas. Sorry Kat, hope you're immune to cooties.
In all seriousness, this series is one to watch. On a very basic level it it the tale of a gladiator, born into slavery, who fights his way to freedom and must learn to adapt to a whole new set of rules as a free man. But really, it's so much more than that. The storytelling is superb. Despite the heavy subject matter, there's some lighthearted elements that crop up at the right times. As of right now, there are two books in the series available with a third coming  soon. I've actually had the pleasure of beta reading the third, so I can say that the story just keeps getting more interesting.

Keep watching for more Write On! book recommendations! Next time, we're bringing the ladies back for some good old fashioned fantasy fairytales!