Friday, July 29, 2011
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.
Marva Dasef http://marvadasef.com/
Twitter Handle: @Gurina
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Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZI_8LgOIb4
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I'm Kameron McBride. Call me Kam.
When I earned my degree in Computer Science, and got my first job as a systems analyst at a major software company in Seattle, I figured all I had to do is keep my eyes peeled for Mr. Right. Not that I was in any rush to get married, but I didn't want to miss something good while I was busy building my career.
Just one minor little detail. Well, make that two. Dad died. That just about killed me. He was always my best bud. Mom and I soldiered on, though. Then Mom started feeling bad, really weak. The doctor diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis. She got treatments, but MS doesn't have a cure. So she got weaker and weaker until she couldn't walk around anymore. She went from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair. But she kept herself busy with geneaology. I don't see the appeal myself, but it makes her happy.
Any thoughts of even getting a date went out the door. Don't get me wrong. I love my mom and don't resent a single second of the time I spend taking care of her. After all, she took care of me and sacrificed a lot to get me through college.
Then I got the letter. Talk about weird. Some guy I'd never heard of disappeared seven years ago, and he was declared dead. Strange enough, but even stranger, I was named as the executor of his estate.
I wanted to shuck it off, but Mom told me the man was related to my father. Seventh cousin, twice removed or something like that. She said I had to go. She wanted anything having to do with the family, you know, photos, birth records, stuff like that.
So there I was, driving through the gawdawful foresaken wilds of eastern Oregon, trying to find some bump in the road town called Rosewood. Of course, I got lost. Who wouldn't? Every chunk of scraggly sagebrush looks like the next and they don't seem big on road signs.
Lucky for me, a Deputy Sheriff found me sitting out in the middle of nowhere. We had a minor little disagreement at first. He wanted to shoot me. But I forgave him for that when I looked into those baby blues. Ahem. Right. Anyway, here's a brief description and excerpt.
When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.
En route, she runs afoul of a couple of hillbillies and their pickup in an accident that doesn’t seem...accidental. Especially when they keep showing up wherever she goes. Lucky for her, gorgeous Deputy Mitch Caldwell lends her a hand, among other things. Her suspicions increase when the probate Judge tries a little too hard to buy the dead man’s worthless property.
Working on a hunch and trying to avoid the Judge’s henchmen, Kam probes deeper into the town’s secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. With Mitch’s help, she peels away the layers of prejudice, suicide, murder, and insanity. But someone in town doesn’t like her poking around, and when they show their intentions by shooting her through the police chief’s office window, the stakes are raised. Kam must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.
And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.
The sky had turned a deeper blue as the sun continued its trip behind the mountain ridge. The shadows lengthened on the east side of the scraggly shrubs. The faint hum of a car engine drew her eyes southward. “Good, I could use some directions.” But she was alone on an otherwise empty road. Maybe the approaching vehicle held a friendly soul, but it could just as well carry a serial killer.
Using her shirttail as a hot pad, she gingerly took hold of the door handle again and climbed back into the car. Goose bumps rose on her arms when the still blasting air conditioning hit them. She turned on the emergency flashers then opened the glove box, looking for something to use as a weapon. “Ah ha!” Kam pulled out a two-inch canister. “Pepper spray? Crap, just hair spray, but that shit burns eyes. Better than nothing.” She tucked it between her right thigh and the console to hide it from view, her finger ready on the button.
The vehicle grew larger and revealed itself to be a Ford Expedition SUV painted Oregon green. The lights on its roof flashed blue and red for a moment then went off. “A cop. Excellent.” On the other hand, she’d heard of guys who decked out their rides to look like cop cars.
The SUV pulled up behind her and stopped. After a long pause, the door opened. A man in khaki climbed out and walked forward. He stopped behind the car and wrote something, probably the plate number, on a pad. Aviator glasses hid his eyes, but the rest of him looked pretty good. Tall. Well, maybe not too tall. Slim and dark, just how Kam liked them. Watching him approach, she wondered idly how he managed to keep the razor-sharp creases in his uniform in this heat.
When he reached her side window, he gestured for her to roll it down. Kam cracked the window a couple of inches. She noted the badge and the Smokey Bear hat. “I don’t think I was speeding, Officer.”
The man chuckled, showing fine smile lines at the corners of his full mouth. He had great teeth. “No, you weren’t, but I wondered if you might be lost. A lot of people get themselves turned around out here.”
Kam gave him a rueful grin. “Yeah, lost isn’t the half of it. I’m looking for Cork Hill Road.” She hoped he was the real deal, but she sure as hell wasn’t opening her door. Tin badges were easy to buy on eBay.
“License and rental agreement?”
“Sure.” She opened the center console and pulled out the papers with her left hand, then shoved the rental agreement through the two-inch opening. She couldn’t figure out how to extract her license out of her purse without letting go of the spray.
“Why don’t you just direct me to Cork Hill, or if that’s too hard, how about Rosewood.”
“I’d be happy to, miss, but I really do need to see your license. Paperwork, you understand.”
Kam released a deep breath breath. She stretched her arm across her body trying to reach her purse on the other seat. She grabbed the strap and pulled it toward her. It slipped out of her left hand. She automatically lifted her right to grab it. “Shit!”
Instantly, the officer’s manner changed. The smile disappeared, and he took a step back, pulling his gun from his left-handed holster. “Drop the canister out the window,” he ordered. “Do it now.”
Kam squeaked and threw her hands up. The canister flipped out of her hand and flew at the windshield. It bounced back and landed in her lap. “Now what?”
“Pick it up and push it out the window. Slowly.”
“You already said that.” She picked up the spray with two fingers and dropped it out the window. “Hey, I don’t know if you’re a real policeman. Anyone can play cops and robbers.”
“Please step out of the car. Use only your left hand to unlatch the door and keep your right hand where I can see it.” The barrel of his pistol never wavered from her torso.
“Take it easy. I’m opening the door.” He stood outside the reach of the door’s swing. Kam decided she’d rather fight outside the car, than be shot inside it. She got out with her hands still raised.
“Now move to the rear of the vehicle,” he ordered. When Kam obeyed, he took a step forward, never taking his eyes off her, knelt, and picked up the canister. Straightening, he glanced down at the canister then back to her. The corner of his mouth twitched as he re-holstered his pistol. “Sorry, but…hairspray?” He took off the aviators and smiled.
* * *
The Witches of Galdorheim Series (Beginning October 2011)
Bad Spelling: A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Midnight Oil: Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?
Scotch Broom: A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
This year, I released my collection of fantasy and soft science fiction stories, which are suitable for both young adults and adults. Many of these stories were previously published in genre magazines, both print and online. A good friend of mine suggested putting these together and publishing them in a print edition. I reread all of my stories and decided which ones I wanted to put into the collection. I tried to include the ones which I most enjoyed reading. I also wrote a couple brand new stories to include.
As a reader, I enjoy fantasy above all else, however, I also enjoy reading soft non-technological science fiction. When I put the collection together, I decided to include stories from both of these genres. When writing fantasy, it’s important to create a story which is believable, even while being unreal. The reader has to be able to think what you’re writing could happen. They have to be able to suspend their disbelief long enough to be pulled into the story.
The same is true when writing science fiction. I am not a science person. I don’t understand quantum physics, but I do understand people and relationships. When I write my science fiction, I place my characters in a place and time in the future. I write stories not about space craft but about how people will interact with each other. These are the stories in my collection. I hope you are intrigued and would like to purchase a copy for yourself at http://sdpbookstore.com/anthologies.htm
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
My name is C.K. Volnek, Author and Story Teller. My first MG book, GHOST DOG OF ROANOKE ISLAND will be available September 1, 2011. Yay! It’s a tween ghost story, with some chilling Native American folklore thrown in, and based on a true mystery that has never been solved, the mystery of the Lost Colony. In 1587, 117 colonists disappeared from Roanoke Island without a trace. Many have speculated on what happened to them, but no one knows for sure.
That is until twelve-year-old Jack Dahlgren moved to Roanoke Island. He’s not exactly happy about leaving the only home he ever knew in Ohio to move into his great-grandmother’s creepy beach house. Then he discovers his side of the island is haunted by a terrible evil beast. No wonder the local kids steer clear of him.
It’s up to Jack to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family. With the help of newfound friend, Manny, a Native American Shaman, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack must piece together the clues of the Lost Colony to discover what this beast is and where it came from. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, Jack will uncover why the evil haunts his island, but can he destroy it … before it destroys him?
And what did happen to the Lost Colony? Guess you’ll just have to read my book, GHOST DOG OF ROANOKE ISLAND to find out.
But that’s enough about my book. You’re all here to find out the importance of a Cover…here we go:
How important is the cover art of a book?
This question was posed recently in my Authors’ group. I found the responses very interesting. For these writers and readers, a cover was an important draw. A good cover sets mood and tone as well as just looks good. Some people loved photographs. Others art. Some bright colors, others dark. It was unanimous overall though, that it depended upon the topic of the book and what the reader is in search of.
I found a wonderful quote regarding covers from http://www.slushpile.net/index.php/2005/12/20/the-importance-of-cover-art/
According to a Times Online article, the story you slaved over for years, and then waited two years for it to be published and hit the shelves, has about the same time it takes to sneeze once or twice to make an impression. The article, You Can Tell a Book By Its Cover, points out that “Studies show that a book on a three-for-two table has about one and a half seconds to catch a reader’s eye. If it is picked up, it is on average glanced at for only three to four seconds. ”
I decided to test it out for myself. Was the cover of a book that important to me? Was I really one of the visually fickle of today?
So, standing in front of the multitude of book at a local book store, I glanced up and down the rows and tables. I was pleased when I found I could pass by the cover art if the title jumped out and grabbed me. I looked again. When this happened, it was generally if there wasn’t much cover art to be had. I guess to my visual eye, the title was then the cover art. Sigh… I guess it still boils down to the visual grabbing me first.
So, yes…I actually did fall into that fickle visual majority when in a book store. If I see something appealing, I give it a second look. At second glance, I’ll read the title and if I like that, I’ll move onto the blurb. Sometimes I’ll move into the first page, but most times, if I’m intrigued enough by the blurb, I expect the rest of the book to do the same.
How about you? Do you judge a book by its cover?
(Mind you, this test was based strictly on window shopping. I have found I can pass by the cover if I’ve already read a review or blurb of the book. If my interest had been captured beforehand, I was already on the lookout for the book.)
Thanks for stopping by!
Saturday, July 16, 2011
So anyway, we'd get an hour out of the driveway, and the questions would start (everything takes longer when you're a kid, let's admit it): "Are we almost there yet? How much longer? When do we stop? I have to go!" And after Mom got tired, us kids would start in.
The reason I'm sharing this is because the most often question I get, from writers and potential fans alike, is, "How long did it take you to write your novel?" That, and its brother variant "How long should it take to write my novel?" It's the literary equivalent of "Are we there yet?"
I think the biggest mistake young writers make (and I'm certainly no exception) is impatience. They get an idea in their head that a novel should only take three weeks to write, and then get frustrated when the rough takes several months. They get it in their head that they're running out of steam, and next thing they know their novel is gathering e-dust in their hard drive, or moldering in a notebook under their bed, untouched for months or maybe years. What an injustice to one's talent, leaving a project unfinished like that.
I've only published two novels, and I'm working on my fifth manuscript right now. The first MS took four years to write. I confess, the second one remains unfinished in its infancy. The third MS turned out to be my first published work. The rough draft took fifty-five days to write, and the edits took about another year and a half, if it was worked continuously. As it was, I'd edit it, then submit it to a few places. After every five or so rejections, I'd edit it one more time, weed out more adverbs, correct more errors, change some of the prose, find a better line here, flesh out that concept there, and so on. As it was, the editing/marketing stage took another three years. That was Becoming NADIA.
The next project took about a year and a half to write the rough and edit, using tools I'd picked up from the critique process. These times I'm giving you do not take into account the final editing stages, working with my team of professional editors. This is just the blank-page to ready-to-submit process.
What you want to do as a writer is slow down and take your time. You're taking my mind (as a reader) on a journey, whether it's a journey of three blocks or a thousand miles. If you make each scene a revelation, show me something new, make me open my eyes just a little wider, and look at a situation from a different angle, all on the route to South Dakota, you'll keep me from asking, "Are we there yet?" And I can tell you one thing for certain: If you're asking it to yourself, you can bet I'm asking it when I read it.
Plan where you're ending your story, then, whether you’re a Planner or a Pantser. At least know where you're going. Then you'll know for sure when you get there, and the trip won't have felt like it was dragging on.
'Cause, brother or sister, the trip takes as long as the trip takes.
Friday, July 15, 2011
By YA fantasy author Andrea Buginsky
I never would have imagined that writing a sequel could be harder than writing the first book. I figured once you wrote your first book, it was all downhill from there. Boy, was I wrong! I learned a lot about writing working on the second book in “The Chosen” series:
1) Keep Lists: if you’re going to write a series, you have to keep lists of your characters and their attributes, the places your characters frequent in the stories, the bad guys, a timeline of events, and anything else that will carry from book to book in the series. The last thing you want is to change a character trait or event date that you had in book one to something totally different in book three. You WILL have readers who notice.
2) Draw a map: If your stories are involved in a world unlike ours, you will be doing yourself a huge favor by drawing some kind of map to remind you of where everything is. Even if you can’t draw, put together some kind of map/grid showing you where everything in your story is. Make a list of the different areas, towns, villages, etc., and where they’re located. Again, this will help you keep track of where the different areas are from book to book.
3) As you continue to write more books in the series, you may start to run out of ideas. Keep a list of ideas for new adventures your heroes can go on, and add to it any time you think of another one. You can even use ideas you receive from your fans. If you receive fan mail with questions about why they haven’t done this, or why don’t they do this, add it to the list! The fan who had the idea will be flattered when he or she sees their idea in print.
4) Remember to write little “reminders” of previous adventures in the newer books, especially in the second and third ones. Newer readers may not have read the first or even the second book in your series yet, and you’ll want them to understand what’s going on. It will also entice them to go back and read the entire adventure in your earlier books.
5) When you start a story-within-the-story, be sure to continue it throughout the series. You may wish to make notes about the events to remind you of them, so you’ll be sure to include them in future books.
These are just some suggestions to help you keep track of the different attributes of your book. You may want to start a notebook or journal to help you keep track of everything. As you continue to write more books in your series, you’ll begin to remember most of these attributes without having to look at your notes. But they’ll be a great reminder of all of the hard work you did to create your babies, and a treasure you’ll want to keep always.
Andrea Buginsky is the author of "The Chosen," available from Solstice Publishing.