Introducing Martine Lewis

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Martine Lewis, the author of the young adult title, Crossing the Barrier: The Gray Eyes Series Book One. She’s also hosting a book giveaway on Goodreads!

_JEF6320Why don’t you start by telling us about yourself.

This is always the hardest part, isn’t it?

We’ll get the hard part out of the way first.

I start writing when I was eleven years old, and have written on and off ever since. I wrote mostly fanfictions and some bad originals when I was younger, mostly inspired by people I knew. Fanfiction was a good way to hone my skill and when I tackled the writing of my own original fiction, I was ready.

Now, I write original fictions with no end in sight.

On a more personal side: I work full time as a Project Scheduler/Planner to pay for my “writing addiction”. Hopefully one day, my writing will support itself and me, and I’ll be able to do it full time.

As a Project Scheduler/Planner, you probably don’t have the organizational problems that plague me and so many other authors.

Tell us about Crossing the Barrier.

It’s the story of a football player who falls for a band girl. It was heavily inspired from my attending high school football games here in the suburb of Houston. I came to love the atmosphere at those games, and I got to know a lot of the parents. It’s an interesting world, where the players are very devoted to the sport, and the band is having the time of their life, and I wanted to explore it more.

It turns out this book worked very well in the universe I created. While this is the third book I wrote in that universe, it was only fitting that it would be the first one to come out. It worked best in the series timeline.

Blurb:

High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.

Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.

Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?

Who is your target audience?

I would say young adult/new adults between the age of 16 and 20.

How many volumes do you plan to write in the series?

This book is part of a series of six, the Gray Eyes Series.

A few days ago, I received the development edit comments for book 2, and I am currently revising book 3 to send it to my legal reviewer. All my books go through her. I think it’s important for me to get my legal facts right and I take good care in doing just that.

I will complete the first draft of book 4 in April during Camp Nano. I began in November and got halfway through before I had to go back to book 1 (Crossing the Barrier) to address my copyediting comments.

Book 5 is written, at least a first draft. I should begin my first revision of it in September.

Book 6 is the only one that is not yet written, at least in part. I should be writing it during Nanowrimo this coming November.

It certainly sounds like you’ve got a great start on the series. How long did it take to write?

Usually, I can write 95,000 words in a month. I use challenge months such as the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo), Camp Nano and Junowrimo to complete my first drafts, and off months to plan. It works for me to have the pressure of a challenge in order to obtain a good word count by a certain date. I think my first draft is by far the easiest part to write.

Then I do revising, at least two passes, then the editing cycle.

I’ve always wanted to try the challenge months. They don’t fall at good times for me.

What are some books that influenced/inspired you in the writing of this one?

This particular book wasn’t inspired by any books. It was mostly inspired by what I witnessed at the football games I attended.

Who are your favorite authors?

While I write Young Adult, Cambria Hebert, who mostly writes New Adult, is a big inspiration for me. I especially like her #Hashtag Series, which I read three times in the last year. I also like CM Doporto and her University Park Series, and Tammara Webber’s Easy.

And of course, I would be remiss not to mention JK Rowling. She really created a wonderful universe in which I took an enormous pleasure to write in. I wrote hundred of thousands of words of fanfiction in the Potterverse.

J. K. Rowling? Would I have read anything she’s written? Joking. I too am a huge potter fan. I recently read the series with my oldest son, now I’m on book three with my youngest.

On which aspect of your writing do you work the hardest? (Characters, plotting, prose, etc.)

Prose. English is my second language and I do struggle with it a lot. My first draft reads like a paper from a third grader. The words are not very diverse and the phrases are frequently worded using French grammar. That’s why I do so many revisions. That’s why I put so much importance in my editing effort too. I have surrounded myself with editing professionals who know English is my second language and are a great help in varying my vocabulary and finding the right word for what I’m trying to say.

Characters are sometimes a challenge too. While I was writing book 4, or trying to, Malakai, my main character of book 1, kept on talking to me. In fact, he was talking so loud, I couldn’t hear the characters of book 4. That’s part of the reason I couldn’t finish book 4 during Nano, like I would usually have done.

Now plotting is usually not very hard as long as I have an idea already in mind. Subplotting can be challenge sometimes but after a long drive, I can usually figure it out… Yes, I love to plot while I’m driving. There is nothing else to do!

From what little I know of you, I’d have never guessed English wasn’t your first language.

What’s next?

The second series, believe it or not. I plan to be around for a long long time.

Starting in 2017, I will begin writing the Blue Eyes Series which is set in the same universe but with different characters. If my schedule holds – remember, I’m a Project Scheduler by profession – I should write book 1 of the Blue Eyes Series for Camp Nano in April 2017, and book 2 for Nano in November 2017. Let’s see if the schedule will hold.

Crossing the Barrier eRev09-eBook
By link:
Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads book giveaway.

Writing Tip Blog Swap with Sara Jayne Townsend

Sara Jayne Townsend and I have swapped blogs to share writing tips today. She stopped by in June to talk about writer insecurity. You can read that post here. Today she’s talking about the struggles she had finishing her first novel and getting it published. Along the way, she drops several lessons she has taken from her experience.

I’ll also give some writing tips on her site. My post focuses on what I’ve learned writing a series. So after you finished reading this post, hop over there to see what I have to say.

 

LEARNING CURVE

By Sara Jayne Townsend

sara-113-Web (2)

 

My newest release with MuseItUp Publishing is a supernatural horror novel called SUFFER THE CHILDREN that will be hitting the virtual book shelves in late spring. This particular novel is a re-release and has a special place in my heart. Not only was it my first published novel, but it and I have been on a very long journey together.

 

The journey began in the early 1990s when I wrote a short story called ‘Kiddiwinks’, inspired by a creepy-looking abandoned house I used to pass on my way to work in those days. The story was about a group of children who dare each other to break into the neighbourhood’s creepy house, telling stories about the witch that allegedly lives there, and they discover too late it is indeed occupied by an old lady who eats children. I put the story to my writing group and they encouraged me to turn it into a novel. Which I did. I started the novel in 1994, and it took me ten years to finish.

 

I learned a lot of lessons in writing that novel, one of which was that anyone who wants to be published shouldn’t take ten years over one novel. One of the main reasons that it took me so long was that in those days I didn’t plot properly. I’d started with a concept and a set of characters. I knew where I wanted to begin, and I knew vaguely where I wanted to be at the end, but I’d given no thought as to how I was going to get there. Unsurprisingly, I got halfway through and had no idea what was going to happen next. I put the manuscript away in a drawer and got on with writing other things. Then I got to a point when I decided I was going to finish this accursed manuscript if it killed me. I went back through what I had and made copious notes, and then I wrote a three-page plot summary, detailing everything that had to happen, from beginning to end. From there I broke the plot down even further, into a chapter-by-chapter summary. Between that and having some time off from work one Christmas, during which time I was able to hammer out 10,000 words, I was able to get to the end of the first draft. And this was another important lesson: plotting. I am now a meticulous plotter, drafting out plot summaries and chapter breakdowns before I even begin writing chapter one. And I no longer get ‘stuck’ halfway through a story.

 

SUFFER THE CHILDREN was finally finished in 2004, and I started sending out the manuscript. Unfortunately, by then horror had fallen out of favour in the UK. Many of the rejections I collected claimed that the novel was YA, which I didn’t agree with – after all my inspiration was Stephen King, who has written many books with kids as main characters, and he’s not a YA author.

 

At the beginning of the 21st century, the increasing popularity of e-books saw an increase in the number of small e-presses who did not require an agent as gatekeeper and were more likely to take a chance on a new writer. I started submitting to them, and there’s another lesson: literary agents are not the only way to go. Eventually the novel got accepted by Lyrical Press, but they gave me a condition: the character of Leanne had to be 18, because they didn’t deal with YA. I eventually relented, re-wrote the novel and signed the contract. You have to pick your arguments – another important lesson.

 

SUFFER THE CHILDREN was released by Lyrical Press as my first published novel in 2010, but the contract was for three years. When the rights were returned to me I commissioned an artist friend to design a new cover, and self-published it. Finally, when I signed on with MuseItUp for the Shara Summers series, they expressed interest in more of my work and I sold the rights to them. SUFFER THE CHILDREN will once more be available later this year – and with the label of YA I resisted for so long. And there’s possibly the most important lesson. Don’t get too hung up on labels, especially if your publisher is suggesting how to market your novel.

 

SUFFER THE CHILDREN – blurb

 

Orphaned at eighteen, Leanne’s life is adrift in a sea of grief and drug use. She washes up on the shore of estranged relatives, the Carver family, struggling with loss of their own. The transition from her South London council estate to her new home in the Surrey middle-class suburbs is difficult for Leanne.

 

But beneath the respectable veneer of the quiet neighborhood, something terrifying lurks. Displaced and troubled teenagers are disappearing. Leanne recruits her cousin Simon and his girlfriend Carrie to help get to the bottom of the sinister mystery. Can the three of them stop a creature of unimaginable evil before Leanne becomes a target?

 

About the Author:

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories.  She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there.  She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris.  She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

 

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later.  It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.

 

Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend) and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend), and buy her books from Amazon (UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B003QROE8S and US: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003QROE8S).

 

Truth or Lie with Crystal Collier Concludes

If you checked out my Truth or Lie post with Crystal Collier last week, where I told two truths and a lie, now you can learn which story was a lie. The stories went like this:

1. I know some guys in a local St. Louis band called Earl. Back stage at one of their shows at the Pageant, they asked me to go out after the break and play bass, which I did.
2. I’ve met Rob Zombie. In a strange sort of creepy, quazi-ironic way, I met him on Easter Sunday.
3. I have a tendency to win front row seats to concerts. I’ve seen Billy Joel, Elton John, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers all from the front row.

Check out Crystal’s blog post this week to learn which is the lie. And congratulations to Susan Swiderski for guessing correctly. She wins a paperback copy of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud and an eBook copy of The Squire and the Slave Master. While you’re there, you can check out Crystal’s Top 10 List of books in 2015.

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Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud: Chapter Three

While you decide which student versions of Chapter Three have earned your votes, here’s the version I wrote as it appeared in the book. Enjoy!

If you like what you’ve seen and what to read the rest of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, Muse It Up Publishing and Amazon both have it on sale for $2.75 (USD). It’s $5.50 everywhere else.

Here are the links to the other posts involving this project:

Intro and Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud: Chapter One:
Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud: Chapter Two:

Student Versions of Chapter Three

Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Group 5
Group 6
Group 7
Group 8
Group 9
Group 10
Group 11
Group 12
Group 13
Group 14
Group 15

Voting open from September 18-24

Winning submission(s) announced September 25 (Link will go live on the 25th)

****

Chapter Three
Wizards

The thick forest surrounding Innes Village blocked out any moonlight. An owl screeched in the distance, as if it were mocking the inevitable use of magic. A wolf howled again, much farther away than the last time.

“Listen here, wizard!” Owen snapped. “I will not be learning any magic.”

Cedric walked on. “Of course not. That’s why I had you bring your sword. Diversity—the key to many of life’s challenges.” Cedric turned his head, his brow furrowed and his eyes narrowed leaving slits as black as the surrounding woods. “But I’m not a wizard, and I would appreciate you not calling me one. I have denounced them and their ways. The Wizard Rebellion tainted the word for all those using magic for good purposes.”

“Diversity may be key, but magic has caused me more pain and hardship than it will ever aid me.”

What good could come of magic? Owen didn’t like the idea of depending on magic to survive the desert, regardless of who cast the spells.

Cedric’s voice called out from deeper within the woods, “The hour draws late, and I can scarcely see in this forest. If my memory holds true, a clearing lies just ahead. We can set camp and build a fire there.”

When Owen caught up, Cedric had already started gathering firewood. Owen helped, happy to end the conversation about magic. The trees parted above the clearing, and the sky shown bright with stars and the waxing gibbous moon. The huge star that had shown through the window in the dining hall, much brighter than all other heavenly bodies save the moon, now twinkled just over the tall peaks of the western tree line.

They piled the wood, and Owen went in search of food. He returned with three frogs from a nearby stream, their backs speared by his blade. Another trip to the stream resulted in a full lambskin canteen. He came back to find the fire roaring.

Cedric spun the frogs on a skewer made from a small branch. He removed the meat from the fire and distributed portions. “I know you hold magic responsible for what happened to your mother. You’ve made no effort to hide your hatred of magicians. It’s no secret you blame me. I can tell you what really happened the night your mother died, if you’ll listen.”

Owen almost swallowed the frog’s leg bone from which he sucked the meat. “No! I’m not talking about that with you. If not for you, she would have never learned magic. If not for you, the Wizard Rebellion would have never shown up at Innes Castle. If not for you, my mother would still be alive!”

“The Wizard Rebellion would have attacked Innes Castle had I been there or not.” Cedric pressed his palms against his eyes. He shook his head, and hair fell over his fingers. “Owen, there’s so much you don’t understand. Magic is neither good nor evil. Evil people using magic, and their intentions, are what instill magic with evil. If you won’t let me tell you what happened when your mother died, at least let me explain the Wizard Rebellion. You need to know how they began.”

Owen thought about Cedric’s offer for a moment. Without knowing where they needed to go or how long it would take to get there, he guessed several days constituted a conservative estimate. He may as well let the crazy old man tell his story. The magician wouldn’t likely let it rest until he did. He took the last piece of frog meat from the skewer and poked the fire with a long branch before adding it to the fire. Embers sparked and floated away in the zephyr, burning out one by one.

“All right,” Owen said. “Tell me about the Wizard Rebellion.”

Cedric leaned back on a tree stump and talked. Owen listened with rapt attention to the story of how the Wizard Rebellion really started.

* * * *

The pitch black of the starless night sky violently erupted with lightning. The humid air had felt electric all day with the pending storm on the horizon. Now, nature would release all of her fury in a matter of hours. Trees would fall, and lands would flood. A gust of wind blew in through the cracked cabin window, snuffing out the lantern for the third time.

Tired of relighting it, as well as struggling to keep his newly acquired fire magic under control—a singed wall and scorched cuff on his robe accompanied the first two relights—Cedric fell back on easier magic. He took up a staff with a small sphere at the end, and he made the sphere glow a brilliant white-blue twice as lustrous as the lantern.

The light gave a purple hue to the face of the man sitting at the table reading a letter. Shadows formed in his sunken cheeks. He was lean but not unhealthy. The trick of the light made him resemble a skeleton. He ran a hand through his short hair.

“Thank you, Cedric,” Argnam said. “I think I’ll soon retire for the evening. Follum says the Western Domain passed a law restricting magic users to practice only within the confines of their own homes. He says he will journey to their land to discuss the foolishness of the law.”

Cedric moved around the table to better see the note over Argnam’s shoulder. Over a year ago, he had suggested they try establishing communication with those fearful of magic, but his mentor hadn’t thought they would listen. “Have you changed your mind about reaching out to non-magic users?”

“Nay, Follum believes fear spawns from ignorance, and he thinks people can learn to trust magic. I don’t share that optimistic world view. I’ve used my magic to heal fatal wounds, just to have the recovered person spit in my face for using magic on them.” Argnam finished reading the letter. “Follum is right about one thing, we have to do something to stop the persecution of wizards. I’ve thought about organizing a rebellion. Give me another night to think on it, and we can discuss some ideas I’ve developed tomorrow.”

That night, Cedric dreamed of a great battle. Older, and now a true magician, he fought for his life. Others fought in the battle as well; some of whom he knew well, others he didn’t. Yet in the surreal world of the dream, he knew everyone. And he understood where his loyalties lay.

A blue flash of light hurled toward Cedric. He jumped aside just in time. The magic slammed into the interior castle wall, causing it to crumble. In mid-dive, he charged his staff with strange magic he didn’t yet understand. He rolled to his feet and propelled his staff like a spear at the familiar wizard who stood before him. The spear landed home and pierced the center of his former mentor’s chest. Argnam had time to look down at the staff embedded in his chest before the staff exploded, killing him.

The next day, Cedric told Argnam of the dream.

Argnam fixed Cedric with a gaze that seemed to penetrate his inner spirit. “You know some wizards are dreamers. They can see the future in their dreams, but you’ve never had a seeing dream before, have you?”

“No.”

“Then I wouldn’t worry about it. I’ve never heard of a dreamer gaining the power as late in life as you.”

“I’m only twenty-four,” Cedric said.

“Yes, but you’re almost ten years older than the typical age. Only once have I heard of a seer gaining the gift as late in life as sixteen. It just doesn’t happen.”

“I started my training in magic later than most. Do you think that could affect the onset?”

Argnam placed his hands on Cedric’s shoulders. “Listen, I’m not going to worry about it, and neither should you.”

Cedric closed his eyes and shook his head. “I’ll try, but the dream seemed so real.”

Argnam released the young man and took a seat. He gestured for Cedric to sit as well. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Now I’d like to tell you about my plan.”

They discussed forming a band of wizards with the purpose of traveling the world, seeking more wizards to join their ranks and attempting to convince non-magical people not to fear those who could wield magic.

As he thought over the plan, Cedric scratched at the stubble of the beard he had decided to grow a week ago. It itched so much. He didn’t know how long he’d be able to keep at it. “And how do you suppose this…what should we call it, this Wizard Rebellion, should convince those who fear magic to trust it? I know you don’t believe in talking sense into them like Follum does.”

“We could hold demonstrations, public displays of magic. We could hold mass healing ceremonies. Anything to show people what good can come from magic.”

Cedric shook his head. “When people hear wizards are banning together, they will pass laws to make our congregations illegal.”

Argnam stretched his hands behind his head. A smug arrogance washed over his face, making it look more rigid than normal. “I’ve thought of that. We’ll have to organize the wizards in secret. Keep our presence as quiet as possible. When we emerge in numbers, they won’t have time to make laws.”

A vision of Cedric’s dream flashed in his head. He blinked to shake off the memory. “Some people may become violent. Fear is a great motivator.”

Argnam rose and walked to a window. “If anyone raises a hand against us, we can use our magic to defend ourselves. Of course, a non-magic user couldn’t do much to defend against one wizard, let alone many. So we’d have to be careful. Use our defensive spells sparingly. If anyone were to get hurt, it would set our cause back a great deal.”

Thus the Wizard Rebellion started. The next day, Cedric made the first recruit when Necrose came to see if they, too, had received the letter from Follum.

A year passed. Many wizards in the Western Domain and Southern Domain joined the Rebellion. Argnam wanted to gain an alliance in the Eastern Domain before moving into the Northern Domain, due to the Northern Domain’s geographical isolation. He intended to leave the political juggernaut of the Central Domain for last.

“Cedric,” Argnam said, “the time has come for your Endeavor.”

Cedric’s mouth fell agape, and he dropped the goblet of water he carried. He had hoped to take on his Endeavor soon, but the mentor always determined the time, place, and event.

“I have received another letter from Follum. Remember a year ago when he went to the Eastern Domain to convince them their laws had to change? Well, it appears they prosecuted him, and he has spent most of the last year in prison. Your Endeavor is to rescue him, and, of course, find new recruits for the Wizard Rebellion while you’re in the east.”

Cedric made haste from the swamplands of the south to Echion, the capital city of the Eastern Domain. Once there, he bypassed the barracks and headed for the rocky cliffs of the seashore. One of the wizards he met along the way, and successfully recruited for the Rebellion, informed him the prison stood on a plateau that hung over the ocean.

Looking at the fortress, Cedric thought escape was too easy for a wizard. The rocky cliff and the ocean would deter a normal person from breaking out and leave them incapable of breaking in. With magic, he scaled the rock wall and made his way to the top of the prison, only to find it completely unguarded.

Inside, he didn’t know where to start looking, but he didn’t have to wander long. He held out his hand, and a fireball ignited and floated just above his fingers. The illumination showed an elderly man on a bunk in the cell straight ahead. Follum. Cedric extinguished the fire and charged the end of his staff. The faint glow it gave off reminded him of a dream he had forgotten long ago. What had the dream been about? Had he used his staff to kill someone? He snapped back from his memory and used the staff to pass the energy to the bars of the cell. They each gave off the same glow. He stepped back, and the bars exploded.

Follum sprang from the bed much faster than seemed possible for a man of his age. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Rescuing you,” Cedric said.

Follum didn’t act old at all as his tongue tore into Cedric. “You can’t be serious. I am a master wizard. You are an apprentice. Do you think me incapable of breaking out of here if I so desired.”

Cedric stood confounded.

Follum approached him with anger in his eyes. “I’ve remained to show the people of this land that I respect them and their laws. I hoped in time they would come to understand that I intend them no harm. Did you even face any guards getting in here? I bet not. And they moved me to this cell earlier today. Someone set you up. Let’s go. We have to leave now!”

Cedric stared dumbfounded as Follum walked away. How could he have fallen for such an obvious trick? He followed Follum, and the two men hurried down the cliff wall and back toward the village.

“We’ll follow this path toward Echion and hide in the forest.”

Cedric still pondered who could have set him up. “Argnam sent me to rescue you as my Endeavor. No one else knew the plan.”

“Congratulations! You’re one of the craft now. You saved me.” Follum turned on Cedric. “You’re also a fool. He must have sent word of your coming. Let’s take this path and hide in the forest.”

Cedric felt like a fool. He thought he needed to explain himself. “We formed a rebellion to fight the injustices wizards face. We want to show people that magic can help them. I had hoped you would join us after I rescued you.”

“Peaceful demonstrations have been tried before. They never work. At some point, they get out of control. The peace turns to violence, and the original cause looks worse than it did before the demonstrations. No, I will not join you. Argnam should have known I would refuse. I think your whole Endeavor is a test of your loyalty to Argnam.”

Could Argnam have set me up to test my convictions?

Just before they reached the canopy of trees, countless soldiers emerged from the forest.

Follum made no effort to take a defensive stance. “An hour of judgment has come. Decisions made now will determine not only our fate, but the fate of all magic users in the eyes of the people of the Eastern Domain. I am prepared to wait out my days in prison. Yet we have come this far, and I will aid you in escape if you so desire.”

Cedric considered his options. He could stand down with Follum. But he’d have to spend time in prison. He didn’t share all of Follum’s beliefs. While a fight could set back what little progress had been made over the past few years. “As long as we don’t kill any soldiers, I say we fight. I don’t believe rotting in prison will convince anyone to trust magic.”

Cedric waved his staff, and the front line of soldiers flew back, knocking over the next two rows. Follum joined in the attack, and the two wizards worked their way into the forest and out of the Eastern Domain.

* * * *

By the time Cedric finished, the large, bright star in the west had progressed east to light the night sky directly overhead. He claimed exhaustion and settled down to sleep.

Owen lay awake pondering the tale. The information confounded him. This fool just told him he started the Rebellion, yet the rebellion from the story didn’t seem at all like the one he remembered. Cedric even gave the Rebellion its name. And helped recruit new members. I wonder how many of the members he recruited were involved with the bombardment of Innes Castle?

To clear his thoughts, he reminisced about his mother while he watched shooting stars burn across the clear night sky. Before long, his eyes grew heavy. Sleep overtook him.

****

Want more of Owen, Cedric and the rest of the characters from Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud? Find the link to your favorite retailer here.

Vote for Your Favorite Student Version of Chapter Three

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It’s time! You’ve read fifteen different versions of Chapter Three written by groups of high schools students in Nantes, France. Now you get to tell us what you think. Voting ends on September 25. If you leave a comment as to why you liked the one(s) you picked, I’ll hold a drawing for someone to get a FREE copy of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. If you win and already have Unveiling, I’ll upgrade the prize to The Squire and the Slave Master when it comes out.

Find the submissions here:

Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Group 5
Group 6
Group 7
Group 8
Group 9
Group 10
Group 11
Group 12
Group 13
Group 14
Group 15

Thank you for your time and consideration in reading all of these stories. We’ll take a break from posts tomorrow, and on Sunday, September 20 (my birthday) you can read the version of Chapter Three from Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud.

Writer’s Insecurity by Sara Jayne Townsend

Here’s a short inspirational piece for all the authors and aspiring authors out there. We’ve all experienced our fair share of doubt. My personal insecurity is fueled by my own writing and the fact that I can produce a section of brilliant writing (if I do say so myself) followed shortly by utter rubbish. Unfortunately, I tend not to notice the rubbish until my editor sends me her suggestions. Oh well, I’ll work on it. In the mean time, have a look at Sara Jayne Townsend’s take on writer’s insecurity and some tips to deal with it.


Writer’s Insecurity
By Sara Jayne Townsend

“I think it’s fairly common for writers to be afflicted with two simultaneous yet contradictory delusions, the burning certainty that we’re unique geniuses, and the constant fear that we’re witless frauds who are speeding toward epic failure.” -Scott Lynch

Our writing group has been enjoying quite a lot of member success of late. Two people have recently sold their first novel. We always take some time at the beginning of meetings for announcements, and when people have news of an acceptance to announce, it is always a moment for rejoicing. However, in both cases the writers concerned received emails informing them their manuscript had been accepted, and that a contract would follow shortly. Both then added to the end of their joyous announcement, “well, unless they change their minds in the meantime.”

I can completely understand this emotion because the same thing has happened to me with every novel contract I’ve signed. Before the contract is signed and binding, I am gripped with the irrational fear that the publisher’s going to withdraw the contract.

I still hold a day job, and have gone for many job interviews in my 25+ years in the working world. Generally whenever I’ve been successful in an interview, the initial news has come via phone call, with a promise that a contract of employment would follow shortly. I have then gone back to work to hand in my notice and work out when I could feasibly start with the new employer while I wait for the contract to arrive. I have never sat and fretted that the new employer, after offering me the job, is going to inexplicably decide I am a complete fraud and withdraw their offer.

So why does this happen with book contracts? Why do all writers get gripped occasionally by the irrational fear that we’re just pretending to be writers and someone’s going to find us out one day?

I don’t know the answer but if this has happened to you, take some reassurance in the fact that it happens to us all. The opening quote from Scott Lynch inspired this post, and I think it’s comforting to know that other writers – particularly ones far more successful than you – feel exactly the same way you do from time to time.

Writing is a solitary business, and sometimes it’s hard to shake that Worm of Doubt that lodges in the mind and makes us lose faith in what we do. But it’s important to work out whatever it is you need to do to shake that worm loose. Develop a community of other writers to offer support and sympathy when needed. Go blast zombies on the PS4. Dig up some weeds in the garden. Whatever works for you to take your mind off the fear of failure.

Just remember that this feeling will pass, and it’s important to keep the faith. You have to believe in your writing, before anyone else will.

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They were dying to be famous. And someone was prepared to kill for it…

Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with. Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window. It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed. His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?

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Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.

The first two books in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers, DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL, are available as e-books from the MuseitUp book store: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/70-our-authors/authors-t/420-sara-jayne-townsend and from all good e-book retailers.

Follow Sara on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003QROE8S) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend), and learn more about her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com).

Fan Input: Excerpt 1

As I work on finishing the edits on The Squire and the Slave Master, I’ve decided to try some things I didn’t do with the release of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. I’m going to post pieces of information about the book, and ask people to give me their opinion.

To start, I’m thinking of using this as my first excerpt. What do you think? Do you like it? Hate it? What works/doesn’t work? Is it too long/too short/just right? Any information you want to give me helps. Thanks.

Mock Cover

Promotional image only.

Excerpt 1:

Yara’s mother, her long, brown hair, much like her daughter’s, but streaked with grey, entered the stables. She looked around and must have sensed the remaining hostility. She put her hand on the man’s shoulder. “Oh, Pavit, you didn’t try to tell Yara her place in the world again, did you?”

“Now Kamala, you know—”

“Yes he did, Mother. And do you know what’s worse? He wants to arrange my marriage. And even worse, he wants to go back to the time of slavery.” Yara tried to scowl at him, but she felt a smile break through.

“Now, I never even suggested that.”

“Yara, honey,” her mother said, smiling as well, “a messenger from the castle’s here to see you.”

“Agh! Right now?” She dripped with sweat and smelled like horse manure. “What could the castle possibly want with me? Can he come back another time?”

Her mother turned to leave. “I think you need to see what he wants.”

Yara picked up the hammer and horseshoe and placed them on the workbench, brushed some of the soot and dirt from her clothes, and took the coif from her hair. She never worried about her appearance, but her hair was uncomfortably matted to her head. When she untied it and fanned it out, it stretched nearly to her waist. It felt much better free.

Opening the door, she paused to size up the tall, well-built man, a few years younger than she, who stood outside the yard gate. His hair had grown out since she had last seen him, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a week. He wore gloves, but she knew underneath, the palm of the right one looked black and charred. She sprinted and threw herself into his arms.

“Owen! How are you?” She pulled away to look at him. “What’s this on your face? Dirt?” She rubbed his beard stubble.

“Yeah, it’s dirt. I thought I should match you.”

Yara’s face grew warm. She couldn’t imagine how much filth must cover her. She didn’t care to take time to freshen herself for a messenger, but she would have had she known his identity. It must have something to do with their time apart—Owen and Yara used to spend almost every day together—but as the official heir to the throne, each time she saw him, he somehow looked different in her eyes. More noble. More royal.

He smiled and wiped at a smudge on her cheek. “Did I hear you say something about getting married?”

“Oh no! Father loves trying my nerves. I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you here?” And how much of the conversation did you hear?

Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud wins Best First Novel Award

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The Literary Classics Awards are in. Unveiling the Wizards’ shroud has won Best First Novel. This is a great honor, compounded by the fact that Literary Classics posted on their website:

“2014 was a record year for entries in the Literary Classics International Book Awards. With entrants from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and many more places around the globe, competition was tremendous. The extraordinary selection of books for young readers gave our reviewers and judges quite a lot to consider as they worked their way through impressive piles of books (and eBooks) for deliberation in this year’s awards.”

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About Literary Classics:

Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth, while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations. Judging is based upon the criteria set forth by Literary Classics’ highly selective awards committee which honors books promoting character, vision, creativity and learning, through content which possesses key elements found in well-crafted literature. Click here for a complete list of the 2014 Literary Classics Award Recipients.

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Young Adult Award Winning Book

About Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud:

As the only son to King Kendrick, Owen despises the idea of being king one day. Magician may be the only career he’d like less. He has dreaded the days leading up to his fifteenth birthday, when his father will certainly declare Owen heir to the throne. But at the birthday celebration, his father falls ill. The only person in the kingdom that may be able to save him is a magician–the very same magician Owen holds responsible for the death of his mother.

Owen and his companions will have to travel the continent of Wittatun in search of the cure for King Kendrick. On the journey, they will battle strange beasts and harsh climates, befriend extraordinary magicians, and meet a dragon before returning to Innes Castle–where much has happened in the days since he departed.

Buy Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud:

Also available at many other online bookstores.

Author Photo
About the Author:

Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel.

Find Eric Price online:
 

Guest Post: Jimena Novaro and the release of Blue Rabbit

If you like books and use social media, you’ve probably come across Jimena Novaro. Today she joins me as part of her week-long blog launch of her novel, Blue Rabbit. Our conversation takes us from Star Wars rock fights to Malcolm Reynolds quotes with a splash of Lord of the Rings, but you’ll have to read the interview to find out how it all fits together.

Jimena Novaro author picHi, Eric! Thanks for hosting me on your blog!

Hello, Jimena. Tell the people who don’t know you a little about yourself.

I’m a bilingual, bicultural writer who lives with one foot in the United States and one foot in Argentina. I love science fiction and fantasy literature more than air. I also sing a lot and love chocolate.

I’d like to visit Argentina someday. I’ve seen some amazing photos of waterfalls I would love to see with my own eyes. And with any luck, I could take in a soccer game (or football, if you prefer) while I’m there.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing stories as soon as I could write complete sentences, but I started telling stories much earlier than that! Funnily enough, the same friend who did the cover art for Blue Rabbit also did the cover art for the first “novel” I wrote, at the age of nine.

Tell us about your current project.

Right now I’m putting the final touches on Blue Rabbit, a YA urban fantasy novel, before the release and continuing to write a chapter of my epic fantasy serial The Withering Sword every Sunday for my website.

How did writing Blue Rabbit differ from writing The Withering Sword?

I didn’t have anything resembling an outline for Blue Rabbit―I didn’t know what would happen past the first few scenes when I started writing it. With The Withering Sword, I’ve had the most important plot points planned from the start, since people are reading along as I write it. For Blue Rabbit I drew more directly from my past experiences as a teenager and with southern US culture. Also, no one else read a word or knew much about Blue Rabbit until I’d finished the first draft and revision, which is pretty much the opposite from what I’ve done with The Withering Sword―let a bunch of people in on a prettied-up first draft.

What’s next for you?

My next project is a YA/NA science fiction psychological thriller. I’ve put it on hold until Blue Rabbit is out and the madness recedes, but I already have over half the first draft written. I’m having a blast working on it.

The best advice I can give you is don’t put off the next project too long. I’m speaking from personal experience here when I say promoting the current project can turn into an inescapable vortex. Now I’m having trouble getting the rhythm reestablished on my next project. But I’ve got three books of which I want to finish at least the first draft before April.

Do you have a writing schedule? If so, what is it?

I occasionally stick to a schedule for a few days straight, which mark my most consistently productive periods, but most of the time I have to squeeze in time for writing between other life-y things. The time of day that works best for me is early in the morning.

I know you like symphonic metal and opera. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

Oh, definitely! I couldn’t write without music. Much of Blue Rabbit was inspired by the music I listened to―in fact, all of the chapter titles except for one are either titles of songs or fragments of lyrics. The Factory of Dreams album Melotronical is one of the ones I associate the most with Blue Rabbit. I also listened to Xandria, Epica, Nightwish, After Forever, and Kamelot while writing it.

Where do you get your inspiration?

From everywhere. I listen to people talk about their lives and past experiences. I research history, current world events, science, and philosophy. I people-watch. I record particularly weird dreams for later adaptation and use.

What have you done to promote your writing?

I’m active on social media, blog semi-regularly, and have a series of videos on YouTube about my love of reading.

I’ve seen one of your YouTube videos, the one we’ve discussed about the mysterious destruction of books… or the physicality of books, if you will. I’ll have to check out the rest. I don’t use YouTube for much besides introducing my kids to the shows I watched as a kid. I’d take Voltron over Power Rangers any day.

You have some short stories on your website, and a story in The Adventure of Creation. Tell us a little about them.

The stories on my website are an odd little collection. You have Othello, a magic-realism piece I wrote as a sort of angry letter in response to argentine author Julio Cortázar’s story Circe, which I saw as a demonization of women. You have Burial Clothes, a short story about a young man struggling to cope with his father’s death, which was shortlisted for a national contest. And you have Half-Humans Anonymous, actually my favorite of the bunch, which addresses such themes as identity, adolescence, and loneliness through a sort of whacky contemporary fantasy world.

My story Worlds of Clay was selected for publication in The Adventure of Creation anthology, which came out earlier this year. Also magic realism, it combines my love for creating with my personal experiences about the loss of my grandfather.

These sound like a great way for people to sample your writing while they wait for Blue Rabbit’s release.

Where can people find you online?

You can find my blog here: http://www.jimenanovaro.com

My favorite place to connect with people is Twitter: http://twitter.com/JimenaNovaro

I also have a Facebook page: http://facebook.com/JimenaNovaroWriter

A Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7170198.Jimena_Novaro

And a YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF0ENPPqpWet3lPryOpObzQ

Have you ever liked a movie better than the book? If so, which one and why?

I liked The Lord of the Rings trilogy by Peter Jackson about as much as the book. Excellent casting, gorgeous music and visuals, and about as faithful as an adaptation can be. Plus, hunky dudes!

Elvis or the Beatles?

The Beatles. J I grew up on them, and I still love them.

What’s your favorite quote?

Can I have two from vastly different sources?

“Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” ― Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract. It introduced me to the world of philosophy, and it still gives me tingles just thinking about it.

“You can learn all the math in the ‘verse… but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love… she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down… tells you she’s hurting before she keels. Makes her a home.” ― Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching Firefly/Serenity. I’ve bought two copies for people who had never seen it. And it’s such a quotable show. I’m a big fan of Jayne, but most of the people I know can’t stand him.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars―the original trilogy, of course. It was one of the obsessions of my childhood. I once got into a fight with my best friend over Luke Skywalker. The fight involved rocks!!! I’ve only seen a couple of seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, though, so it seems like an unfair comparison.

How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

I take neither! I’ve only had coffee once, and I ended up sobbing uncontrollably… in public.

Thanks for joining me today and letting me be part of Blue Rabbit’s launch, Jimena. I wish you all the best.

Blue Rabbit final coverBlue Rabbit Blurb:

In Knoxville, Tennessee, there’s a bridge to another world.

When they first cross it, Erika and her friends feel like they’ve stumbled into a dream. Magical and mysterious, the other world becomes their little paradise, a place to explore and escape from their everyday lives. Until one night a boy from school, Mike, follows them to the other side―and he’s kidnapped by strange and powerful Creatures.

Back home, everyone thinks Erika and the gang are responsible for Mike’s disappearance. The dream has become a nightmare. How can they negotiate with these Creatures to rescue Mike and clear their names? And why are the Creatures fixated on Erika, who feels drawn to their world even as she senses the danger?

 

About the author:

Jimena Novaro always knew she would be a writer. It just took her a few years to realize that she wanted to do it full-time, and relegate things like going into outer space and being an opera prima donna to hobbies. She loves reading and writing science fiction, fantasy, and YA. A self-proclaimed geeky sort of nerd, she spends a lot of her time fangirling over her favorite shows, books, and bands and educating herself about super-important topics such as how to survive an arrow wound and whether or not you can shoot a gun in space. Sometimes she gets super serious and rants about some socio-political issue or other.

She’s a member of the awesome fantasy authors group Mystic Quills. You can find her free epic fantasy serial, The Withering Sword, on her website (a new chapter comes out every Sunday!) Her first book, Blue Rabbit, a YA urban fantasy, comes out this December!