Friday, 31 May 2013

W.I.P. It Good Blogfest

The energetic D.L. Hammons, founder of the amazing WRiTE Club, is at it again with another great idea for the community. He's teamed up with the lovely Elise Fallson to bring us the W.I.P. It Good Blogfest, a chance to share a bit about your current work, hopefully get a wee bit of feedback, and even hook up with CPs and betas. What's not to like?

This came along at just the right time for me because I'd just started a new project when it was announced. I'm always keen to know what people think of my ideas, and have pretty much got over my previous extreme shyness when it comes to discussing my work, so I didn't hesitate to sign up!

DL provided some prompts for us to answer in the post, so let's get into this...

WIP title: Whoops. Sorry, I've got nothing. That is usually the case at this stage though.

Word count: This will be a novella of probably 20-25000 words. So far I have 9,773.

Genre: I guess the nearest one would be sci-fi, though it is set in a near future not drastically different from the present.

How long have you been working on it? About three weeks.

Elevator pitch: A man suffering from chronic self-doubt has neurosurgery to increase his confidence, but how far will this push him away from his true nature, and what happens when he seeks revenge on those who have wronged him?

Brief synopsis: Reuben, a timid man who suffers daily humiliation at the hands of his workmates and even his family, thinks his life can't get any worse. But then he is put in touch with a mysterious surgeon who claims to offer a radical procedure that can alter people's personalities. In the wake of the cosmetic surgery boom, Dr Mistuna claims to be at the forefront of the next wave, offering bespoke character traits to change patients' lives. Reuben can't find any further information on the doctor, and has many reservations, but on the other hand he's very attracted by the thought of having all the confidence and charisma he ever wanted. But what will be the consequences of changing someone's intrinsic nature?

OK, I'm still working on the answer to the last part... pantser through and through ;)

Are you looking for a Critique Partner or Beta Reader?

I've got a full roster of CPs, but I'd be really interested in garnering some Betas to offer opinions further down the line, whether you specialise in SF or not.

Check out the other participants here! I know I've been a bit AWOL over the last few weeks, and I'll be back soon with more of an explanation. But in the meantime, I'm going to try to get to as many other entrants as I can. Always nice to see what people are up to!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

"The Ghost" Cover Reveal

It is time to unveil the gorgeous cover for the final episode of Christine Rains' outstanding 13th Floor Series!

Title: The Ghost (The 13th Floor series, #6)
Author: Christine Rains
Genre: paranormal romance
Release date: July 13th, 2013


Chiharo Black lives with six supernatural tenants in a haunted building's mysterious thirteenth floor. Of course, no one knows she's there except the cats. Being a ghost can be a bit frustrating and lonely, but it isn't as bad as her mother made it out to be.

Until another ghost intrudes on her territory. Jeremy Emerson wants revenge on the vampire that killed him and won't stop until he has it. To top it off, a nightmarish shade sneaks in and leeches the energy from the building's residents before setting its sights on Chiharo and the thirteenth floor. She can't decide which one is more frightening: the one wanting to eat her soul or the one who might win her heart.

Chiharo must convince Jeremy to stand with her against the hellish parasite. If they cannot work together, the greedy fiend will not only drain their energy but everything that supports the thirteenth floor's existence.

Author Bio:

Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has seven novellas and twenty-one short stories published.


Congrats on reaching the conclusion of your amazing series, Christine! I'll be back soon with an explanation of why this is a day late and why I haven't been around much this week. But it is something I'm excited about. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

"The Oracle & The Vampire" Blog Tour

Greetings! Today I'm pleased to welcome back the lovely Christine Rains, with a guest post on the latest in her incredible 13th Floor series, 1305 & 1306: The Oracle & The Vampire. Take it away, Christine!

We've seen a demon trickster, werewolf thugs, a dragon mastermind, and vengeful gods. What villain could be more terrible than those we've already seen in the 13th Floor series? There is something much worse. The villain that works against the hero every step of the way: himself.

Giving our characters flaws makes them realistic and sympathetic. Perhaps a fear of spiders or clumsiness. You can then take it another step and have that flaw work against the hero. There's nothing more horrible than being your own worst enemy.

In THE ORACLE & THE VAMPIRE, Vetis and his imps (from THE MARQUIS) make another appearance. While they do cause a lot of trouble, they aren't what constantly knocks our heroes down. Harriet and Kiral each have their own problems.

When Harriet was nineteen, a jealous fairy placed upon her the curse of the banshee. Every night, Harriet turns into a hideous old hag. Her young body becomes old, and she can barely get around except when motivated by a foretelling. When she has a vision of someone's death, she's compelled to mourn by screaming and running around near the person's residence. Harriet has no control over herself in these moments and cannot find a cure to her curse.

Kiral's weakness lies in his own making. He's a vampire with an addiction. For several decades, he fed upon humans who were high on drugs so he could get the rush too. Kiral has been clean for nearly three years, but it doesn't get any easier. Each day is a battle and the craving is powerful. It makes both his body and mind weak, and he has trouble functioning in every day, I mean, night life.

While a wonderfully wicked villain is entertaining, I think the greatest challenge for a hero is to overcome what lies within himself.

Who are your favorite flawed heroes?

Title: 1305 & 1306 – The Oracle and the Vampire (The 13th Floor series, #5)
Author: Christine Rains
Genre: paranormal romance
Release date: May 13th, 2013


Having fallen for her gorgeous neighbor might not be so bad if Harriet McKay wasn't in her hideous banshee form every time Kiral saw her. Such is her curse. True, he's a vampire struggling with a drug addiction, but he's a good soul. Yet no one could love a cursed witch, especially one not even her cats respect.

After having a vision of Kiral's death, Harriet makes it her mission to save him. Never before has she attempted to change fate, but so strong is her love.

Kiral Ozdemir struggles to make it through every day. The craving for blood laced with drugs directs his every thought until he tastes Harriet's potent blood. The magic immediately addicts him, but she disappears. He's desperate to find her, racing blindly into a city in chaos.

How can Harriet convince Kiral to see past her vile appearance and return her love? If only she can force him to listen to reason coming from a raving crone, perhaps she can save him from the demons hunting him and from himself.

Author Bio:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has seven novellas and twenty-one short stories published.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

A-Z Reflections Post

Better late than never, here is my A-Z Reflections post! I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things after the hectic month that was April.

It was my second time taking part in the Challenge and I had an even better time this year. I think this was down to the high level of reader participation involved. Each day I would write another sentence of a story using five words beginning with the previous day's letter. I never knew what turn the story would take next, which was very exciting, and I was pleased with how it turned out. I would like to do more with the characters that emerged.

And it was all thanks to you! Connections and forging new friendships are what the Challenge is all about, and I tried to get to five blogs that were new to me from the list each day. I didn't always achieve that while keeping up with my regular blogging buddies' themes, but I'm happy to have met a number of great and talented people that I look forward to getting to know better. These include: Melanie Schulz, Jean Davis at Discarded Darlings, Dee at DeecodedPete Denton, Fe at Felicity Writing Away, Rebecca Douglass at The Ninja Librarian (one of the best blog/book titles ever!), Jules at A Dose of Jules, Rhonda at Laugh-Quotes, and I'm sure there are others I forgot to mention in my tired state. I'm thankful to have gained about 50 followers via GFC, pushing me over the 400 mark.

A big shout out to Arlee Bird who came up with the whole shebang and his team of tireless minions for managing a list of almost 2000 bloggers. It can't have been easy.

And that's about it for me, it's 2am here and I'm whacked. Suffice to say that I had a blast during the Challenge and it is one of the best things you can do to make friends and become inspired as a blogger. I've already got a theme for next year, which will be factual and (hopefully!) pre-planned, which will allow more time to get out and about to the other participants. It'll be about something very dear to me, and, unusually for me, I'm looking forward to the research!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Indie Life - Fear of Finishing

It's the second Wednesday of the month and time for another posting of the Indie Life bloghop hosted by The Indelibles. Apologies for missing last month due to the A-Z Challenge, but kudos to those who worked it into their theme!

Today I'm talking about the thorny problem of knowing when you're finally finished with that magnum opus as an indie author. I do think most authors have trouble thinking of any book as complete even if it is bound, printed and on a shelf. But with a publishing contract you will have deadlines and at some point you will have to hold up your hands and relinquish your grip on that precious baby. For self-publishers, no such deadline exists. So how do we decide when it is ready, or at least ready enough?

I just started work on a new WIP this morning, what will be my fourth novel. None of the preceding three do I consider ready for publication. My first book was a heavily flawed learning process. It still holds a special place in my heart but I doubt I will revisit it. My second novel was the first time I enlisted outside help in the form of critique partners. It went through quite a transformation, but due to various factors this one is also  on the back burner. I lost a rewrite in a corrupted pen key, and I feel it would need a sequel in order to adequately resolve the story, and I don't feel I'm in the right place, nor do I have sufficient ideas to write that sequel.

My third WIP is currently with a couple of those same CPs, and I'll be contacting the others soon. I feel kind of bad after all their hard work on the last one came to naught, but this must happen all the time, right? I feel a lot more confident about this book - I just hope that feeling stays.

So, for you indie authors out there, how do you decide when that meisterwerk is ready to take its first steps out into the world? Is it just a feeling you have? Or because you'd rather smash your laptop against the nearest wall than attempt to change anything else? Ultimately, CPs notwithstanding, we have no one to give us that green light other than ourselves, and I've found myself to be quite a hard taskmaster. What's your experience?

Don't forget to check out the link at the top of this post to find more Indie Lifers!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

An A-Z Story - Done!

So, it's all over for another year. I've discovered a wealth of knowledge, happened upon some cool books to add to my TBR pile, expanded my vocabulary and thrilled to some awesome fiction, but most of all I've loved sharing the Challege with friends both old and new. Thanks to every single one of you who stopped by to offer your word suggestions for my story, whether you got to one post or all of them. I started April with a blank canvas and ended it with a massive range of new words and ideas for what has the potential to be a whole series of books! You're amazing!

I'll be offering further thoughts in my Reflections post, but for now let's wrap up this saga. 146 Z words were offered for the final sentence and the final batch of choices is as follows:

Zeal (suggested by J.L. Murphey)
Zinnia (suggested by J.L. Murphey)
Zig-zag (suggested by Melanie Schulz)
Zippy (suggested by Jessica Schley)
Zilch (suggested by Mina Burrows)

And that story in full:

Angels had always had a certain ambiguity, being both human and divine, reflected Acatour with an acute sense of malaise as he looked down on the arable fields of medieval England. A bird flew past making a belligerent shriek, unnerved it seemed by a boggart; Acatour descended, thinking it would take a brainiac like him to unravel the poor soul’s beginnings and why it had not reached Heaven.
     York Cathedral hove into view, shrouded in wooden scaffold as part of the local bishop’s campaign of restoration; but before he could challenge a carpenter over whether any of his colleagues had fallen to their doom, his presence was announced by the crawdad he’d eaten back in 20th century New Orleans repeating on him. He wiped dribble from his chin as the remains of the crustacean narrowly missed the workmen to land in the dew of the graveyard, berating himself for his debauched and unangelic behaviour the previous night; why did that dame have to desert him? The effervescent Ella had always been eager for exciting adventures, but when he’d asked her to accompany him on this esoteric time travel mission, she’d called him a crazy drunk and left.
     It did sound rather fabulous, in the true sense of the word, he thought to himself as he descended further before landing on an empty area of scaffold, all the better for making himself visible; next to him was some viscous fluid, making him think that any fall from this precarious structure would surely be a fluke. Stepping away from the gel-like substance, he felt something watching him and turned to see a Gardengoyle on the wall next to a carved bunch of grapes, which caused the gregarious sounds of the workmen to die away as two thoughts rang clearly in his head: what was it doing here, and did he detect guilt in the creature’s eyes?
     That horrendous stare was starting to give Acatour a headache when a workman with a harried expression shimmied up onto the platform via a hemp rope, his arrival causing an apparently hilarious reaction in the Gardengoyle. “Hey, you!” said the workman, stomping towards Acatour, but something seemed to interrupt his progress, drawing him inexorably towards the island of iridescent liquid, which seemed entirely illogical to the angel until he sensed the impish carving’s illicit intentions.
     The workman slipped on the puddle and waved his arms frantically like a jester, trying not to fall over the edge; in that moment Acatour sensed the wickedly joyful mirth of the Gardengoyle and grabbed the man’s arm, saving him from jeopardy and causing the creature’s joy to dissipate as it contemplated a future in Paranormal Jail.
     “Thank you,” said the man, “my darling Kate is too young to become a widow,” but upon saying this he started to keel over as if affected by his own version of Kryptonite; Acatour had been ready to show kindness to the grotesquely kitsch Gardengoyle, but now saw the only solution was to destroy it. While struggling to hold on to the lanky workman - who had become rather loquacious and kept babbling about his wife and lover, who Acatour hoped were the same person - and stop him from being lost over the edge of the scaffold, he cast around for any tools or discarded carvings he could use as a weapon and finally alighted on a rather hefty rock lobster, which, it occurred to him, would be much more effective than a crawdad.
     A look of merriment crossed the creature’s face that was quite deranged considering it was about to be smashed to smithereens, before it melted into the rock leaving nothing but smooth stone - it was magic, of course - and Acatour quickly descended the monumental structure, past more workmen and a rather flustered merchant, and burst through the main door just as matins was beginning. Two hundred heads turned towards him in a space as quiet as a nunnery, and he felt like a numbskull for interrupting, but he had a need as urgent as a junkie looking for his next narcotics to get that Gardengoyle before it did any more mischief; the next thing he knew, a numbing pain and squeezing sensation on his head told him the Gardengoyle had found him.
     “Oh Father, hallowed be thy name-” began an officious bishop, quickly interrupted by a loud “Ouch!” from Acatour and an earsplitting shriek from the monster at an octave which must have been unreachable by humans as the besieged angel finally wrestled it off his head, before pitching it to the black- and white- tiled floor which looked like pieces from an Othello set, where it smashed into a thousand pieces.
     “Your Holiness,” said Acatour before the stunned bishop could speak, “it is paramount that the remains of this wretched creature are scattered as far as possible, otherwise it will reassemble; and I suggest the privileged members of your congregation would like to take a piece home, one to perhaps repair a dry stone wall round a potato field, another to form part of a whimsical garden frequented by a pixie,” but before he could go on, his eye was caught by the twinkle of precious stones among the debris and he realised the scoundrel had been a thief as well as a murderer.
     By this time the congregation had gathered around the scene, and a man seemed to quiver as he stooped to retrieve a diamond ring before saying to Acatour, “Thank you, good sir, this belongs to my wife; I am a quartermaster, please accept this Quark cheese and flagon of mead to quench the mighty thirst you must have garnered in your quest to quell this monster.”
     Acatour regretted that the being wouldn’t be able to repent, but reflected that it would have probably been quite recalcitrant in that regard; turning to the quartermaster, he accepted his offerings with a rapacious stomach and hopes of rejuvenation from a meal that that great do-gooder, Robin Hood, would be glad of.
     The next sight that met his eyes, however, threatened to saturate his mind as the sensational Ella walked in through the open door; as she called out “Hey, stud!” he recalled the synchronicity he’d sensed between them and his first thought was to take her away somewhere more secluded. Although this tabernacle was not the place for such unangelic behaviour, he couldn’t resist pulling her behind the nearest triptych for a torrid kiss that made him thrum, and noticed she was wearing the necklace he’d left that acted as a tether between them through time and space.
     “Do you believe me now, you upstart?” he teased, glad that their unilateral thinking had led to this union; glancing out of a stained glass window, he noticed it was raining and made an umbrella materialise in a nearby urn, although such a thing was yet to be invented.
     “Of course, my valiant angel,” she replied with a smile, but as they walked out into the rain another thought came to vex him as he realised the downpour would make the viscous deposit left by that vile creature even more treacherous, and the workmen would be vying with each other to be the next casualty. Throwing caution to the wind, he lifted the weight of Ella - she was no wallflower and would want to help - and flew back up to the scaffold, wondering if any writer for the cathedral would record this weird tale of a winged man who came to correct wrongdoing; if they had, then they already would have done, but this was no time to think about time travel’s paradox.
     On reaching the platform, Acatour found the threat had gone; what was in its place was revealed under his X-ray vision to be xylose, a type of sugar which must have formed when the acid substance left by the Gardengoyle had mixed with the xyloid scaffold in the rain and had been coloured yellow by the xanthin from a madder that had fallen from the wall and been trampled in, and he clicked his tongue in relief in the style of the Xhosa people from South Africa.
     Starting to yearn for the next mission, which would take place at the River Yarrow in Scotland in the 16th century, Acatour lifted Ella off the platform with a yank; as they departed, she winked at the youngest of the mystified workmen and said, “Ya’ll should be glad this man showed up today!”
     Acatour looked into her eyes and saw zilch but excited zeal, and they started to zig-zag over a field of zinnia in a zippy fashion, invisible to those below.

And that's it! Once again, thank you all. I'll be taking things a bit quieter over the next few days, but I'll be back in full force soon, as I look forward to seeing what all my new friends get up to next! I hope everyone else had as much fun as me, and I'll see you all for the Reflections. Toodle-oo!