Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Covers!

I'm so excited!
I have new covers for both Marked: A Two Halves Novella and Two Halves. Thank you, thank you, thank you Robin at Robin Ludwig Design Inc. for such wonderful covers! You're a gem to work with.

Here they are, along with some new blurbs!

 
Shapeshifter Xander will remain stuck in oblivion between good and evil until he is marked—either with the sphere that will identify him as a servant of the underworld or with the water mark, working for the keepers of humans, vampires, and warlocks.
 
One decision will mark him and his twin sister Mira equally. She is in love with a man bearing the water mark and wants Xander to follow the path of the good. But Xander loves a black witch, a minion of the underworld. All he has to do to join her forever is kill.

After all, there's something good about being bad.




Sarah killed her human mother shortly after she was born so she could quench her thirst. She hates her vampire father who she never met and blames him for her mother’s death.
 
Now twenty-one, Sarah suppresses her dark side with serums. When a nightmare stirs her dark traits, underworld creatures hunt for the half-breed vampire. On the run, Sarah learns the secrets hidden from her, for a good reason. Had she known her destiny, she may have continued with the serums that kept her safe in the human world.





The covers have already been uploaded to most sites. I'm still working through them and it will take a while for some to be done through all the distribution channels, including print.

I've also set the price of Marked, the first book in the series for free. I'm hoping to keep it at that for a while and for Amazon to price match it from other sites (though it may take months. I'd heard they're not so keen on price matching to free these days because of KDP Select, which would really suck.) 

The idea is to draw readers in with the first book into the series. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, you're more than welcome to get a free copy from Smashwords and download in the format you like including for the Kindle.

I also have a third cover ready for Two Equals, but I'm still trying to work out how I'd like to go about revealing that one.

What do you guys think?


Monday, August 27, 2012

Pictures, as promised :)

As promised, some photos of our trip from NY with captions. I had to pick from hundreds of photos, so it is difficult to share the most beautiful ones (and I'm a little camera shy so had to find the ones without us in the pic - but I'm including a couple with me below ;) 

Statue of Liberty.


South tip of Manhattan.


Manhattan view from East River.


One of the new towers at the 9/11 memorial.
(HUGE!)


Ceiling at the NY Central Library (Gorgeous! The library was captivating.)


Me at the library :)


American Chopper designed specifically for the Trump Organization in the lobby of the Trump Tower.


My youngest one having fun at Fao Schwartz toy store.


View of the City from Central Park (and me)


Trump Tower (which will be featured in Book 4 of the Two Halves Series).










This Wednesday I'll be posting new covers I've had designed for Two Halves and Marked: A Two Halves Novella along with some announcements. Hope you enjoyed the pics :)



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weighted release by Ciara Knight


Today I have the pleasure of featuring Ciara Knight and her released Novelette Weighted. She's a talented writer and always a supportive blogger. I hope you enjoy the first chapter and visit her here to say hello and congratulate her :)


Weighted (Prequel Novelette)
The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.





CHAPTER ONE

Subject: Raeth Arteres
Date: March 8, 2185
Species: Neumarian
Status: Captured

Tick-tock…tick-tock…I clutch the sides of the steel bed in my cell and push up on my elbows. The clock, with its bronze rim, hangs high on the wall, taunting me. The long black arm of the second hand struggles up the side of the enormous disc, ticking away the last few moments of my life.
Tap…tap. Footsteps, two by two, march to the cell door. Sucking in a long breath, I embrace the rhythmic sounds of the airship, with the occasional interruption of an engine sputtering.
Tap…thump.
The Queen’s unmistakable gait interrupts my dream-like state. It matches the sounds of the ship, as if she is an extension of the heap of metal propelling us across the desert wasteland.
“Open the door.” Her voice echoes down the narrow hall.
Tick…
The hand struggles to reach the twelve. If it doesn’t make it, maybe the door won’t open. It teeters and shakes, then slides straight up in unison with the door.
Tock.
“Be quick, before the parasite uses her curse on us.” Her raspy, artificial voice sends a quiver to my core.
A guard races in with a handheld device and points it at my neck. I’ve been collared like a dog. I clutch the slick metal ring around my neck, pulling it from my skin, but current zaps through my shoulders and my arm juts out to my side, shaking. Searing pain runs along my veins.
After all these years of my brother hiding me, it was inevitable I’d get caught.
Darkness swirls deep inside, brewing a storm. I can’t remember what it will do if I release it. Is it a gift, as my brother told me, or a curse, as the Queen believes? All I know is that if I unleash it, the Queen will have what she wants, so I push it down deep, keeping it hidden from her.
A man in a grey coat approaches with a syringe in his shaking hand. His left eye has been replaced by a bronze implant that clicks as it grows wide. I concentrate on remaining calm. “I-I see you s-still need me.” It is a struggle to speak against the rising will of the gift trapped inside me.
“Need you? I only need your wretched, cursed body. We must ensure your kind never threatens the world again. When I’m finished, you will serve me, and only me.”
Acid boils up in my throat but I force it down. The beast caged inside me longs for release.
“Make her cease that ridiculous tapping,” the Queen orders.
The guard grabs my hand and pulls me down on the bed. I hadn’t noticed my fingers rapping against the metal. My body sometimes has a mind of its own. A way of keeping me focused when my brain no longer can.
Princess Semara edges into the room. “Mother, must we—”
“Silence!” The queen whirls on her. “Do you question me, Semara?”
“No, Mother. I only wish to discover the truth about the Neumarians. It will help us in our fight to—”
“The truth? The truth is they are parasites that suck the life out of people, and no one on Earth is safe as long as they live.”
The long needle penetrates my arm and icy liquid shoots up my veins. The room spins. Focus. I must concentrate if I am to keep my secret.
“Take her to the Alteration Room.” The Queen smirks, her flaming-red hair dancing above her head and her mechanical eye widening to a pool of pleasure.
“N-no. I w-won’t—”
The Queen’s skirt billows with her movements. A cold metal hand brushes my cheek, sending a tremor down my arms to my fingers. “Tell us what we want to know, and you will be returned to your people unharmed.”
Princess Semara dances from foot to foot. Yards of red and black material sway with each step. Her eyes plead with me to tell what I should know, but can’t remember.
Or maybe I do, but am not allowing myself to.
“I know n-nothing.”
The edge of the Queen’s knuckles catches my cheek. A trickle runs down my face, the odor of my blood matching the smell of the ship.
“Take her.” The Queen stalks to her daughter. “And no lasers. Do it the old-fashioned way. No anesthetic.”
Tears well up in Princess Semara’s eyes, but she blinks them back.
“Take my daughter with you as a witness,” the Queen says to the man with the needle. “You’ll serve your Queen Mother, won’t you, darling?”
“Yes, Mother,” Princess Semara whispers. Her pale arms wrap around her black corset as if to hug her fear inside.
My stomach flops and the dark swirl inside me means to escape. I rock back and forth, trying to subdue it. “N-no, p-please. You must not—”
Thump…tap.
The Queen’s metal leg beats against the floor with every other step. Soon, I will be the same.
“Please, don’t l-let her,” I plead.
The Princess remains still, the corners of her lips arched down, marking her smooth face.
“Bring the gurney,” the grey coat yells out the door.
Squeak…squeak.
The screech of the wheels makes the hair on my arms stand at attention. Will my robotic leg mimic the high-pitched noise each time I take a step? Does it matter? Even if I escape the ship, my people will see me as a Slag now. Never again will they look at me as one of them.
Arms snake beneath me. My body lifts and lands on a coarse, white-sheeted surface. The gurney under me bounces.
“Raeth, please, you must tell my mother what your people are plotting.”
“They plan n-nothing.”
The grey coat pushes me down the hall. “Lies, that is all they do, tell lies and torment our people. They should all be exterminated.” His face hangs over mine with a derisive smile. Glaring lights fly past overhead until we turn into a room.
Doors swish, sealing shut behind us. Massive silver devices hang from the ceiling and walls. This is the Alteration Room, with all the tools of torture pointing in every direction. Why do they alter themselves, shove techno-implants into their bodies? Terror ripples through every muscle and my hand taps in a soothing rhythm.
They lift me from the gurney and strap me down to a cold, solid surface. Silver bands snap around my wrists, ankles, and head. Salty tears flow down my face and over my lips. Princess Semara wipes them away.
“Why do you fuss over her? You are a princess. If your mother saw you—”
“I only clean off what could interfere with the lasers.”
“You heard your mother. There will be no lasers.” The grey coat spins on his heels and stalks behind a wall. “Besides, I’m taking her leg, not her eyes.” A deep chuckle echoes in the room. “Not this time, anyway.”
My heart races so fast I wonder if one of the machines is pulling it from my body. I try to lift my wrists to clutch my chest, but my hands remain bound by my sides.
“There isn’t much time.” Princess Semara holds up another syringe. “This will keep you from suffering while he—he—”
“Removes my l-leg?”
“Yes.” Semara wipes a tear from her own face. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to see you suffer. Why won’t your people let us live in peace? Why do you want to harm us?” Her voice shakes and her lower lip trembles. Does she not believe her own words?
The deep revving of an engine brings the blackness close to the surface. I clutch my fists and scrunch my eyes shut, trying to free my mind from the squealing sound I know to be a saw.
My body shakes and rattles the metal binds.
The pinch of a needle causes my eyes to shoot open.
Princess Semara stumbles back from the table.
My insides feel gushy and my head floats despite the restraint.
I taste something sour and click my tongue. The saw quiets for a moment and the grey coat stands over me.
He grins, revealing crooked teeth. “Last chance to tell us of the plans to overthrow the Queen.”
My eyelids grow heavy. He slams his fist down on a large orange button, and the blades rotate at a rapid speed.
He lowers the saw and I hear screams. My screams.
Then darkness.
***
Ciara writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her fantasy and paranormal books. Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to acclaimed reviews, securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild. Also, book I, Rise From Darkness, from her debut young adult Battle For Souls series, secured glowing reviews and won July Book of the Month from Long and Short Reviews.

Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She's backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.

Ciara is extremely sociable so please feel free to connect with her at her blog, website, Twitter, Goodreads, or Facebook,

 
Upcoming books in The Neumarian Chronicles:
Escapement (Book I) - Early 2013
Pendulum (Book II) - Mid 2013
Balance (Book III) - Early 2014

Other books by Cara Knight:
Battle for Souls Series
Ascension of Evil - Coming in October

Monday, August 20, 2012

New York, New York...

It's a little late writing this post so please excuse the typos.

Best way to describe my trip to New York: I'm smitten :) It was absolutely amazing. I could write pages about my experience, but I'll try to sum up the trip in a few paragraphs.

On Sunday we took the train from Long Island (where we stayed with friends)  to Penn Station. From there we walked to Times Square, then took a cab to the Harbor for our Circle Line Cruise (2 hours) which took us from Pier 83 on Hudson River toward Ellis Island (Statue of Liberty), up East River, probably a couple of miles past Brooklyn Bridge and back,

Manhattan looks beautiful from shore and I think seeing it from a Cruise truly defines its size and charm.

From Pier 83, we took another cab down to the 9/11 Memorial, walked to get our tickets to enter the memorial which gave us about an hour and a half of wait time. Quick bite to eat and a walk to Wall Street and back and it was time to go to the memorial.

The security was extremely tight. I mean, like airport tight, if not more. Our tickets must had been checked 4 times, you walk through the metal detector and your backpacks are x-rayed. Very, very tight security, which I think it's good. After all, it's the 9/11 memorial and I cannot imagine anything else happening there.

Anyways, after the memorial we took the subway back to Penn Station and train to Long Island. I loved riding the train and the subway in New York. It's not as complicated as I'd been warned as long as you study the system ahead of time.

On Monday was a whole new experience. Once we got out of Penn Station the rush of people through the streets was awesome. I soaked in as much of the atmosphere as I could. The energy, the rush, the business man standing outside of the building smoking nervously. What a variety!

Again we waled up 7th Avenue to Time Square (I love Time Square - sensory overload - I didn't know what to look at!) then 42nd to 5th Ave to see NY Library. Beautiful!  We had 20 minutes before it opened, took some pictures and were ready to go up 5th Avenue, but my son pleaded to see the inside (so proud, I couldn't refuse my little reader's request and I'm glad I didn't). Inside was stunning. Beyond my expectations! Probably the highlight of our trip!

The artwork, the detail, marble floor, stairs, columns. Painted and intricately crafted ceilings. My mouth dropped open. I had to lie down on the floor to take the pictures (I do that often). Once I get a chance to upload them, I'll post some on the blog.

After the library we went up 5th Avenue to the Rockefeller Center. (Kids of course had to go to the Lego store), then St. Patrick's Cathedral, Trump Tower, Fao Schwartz Toy Store (kids loved it again) and up to Central Park. At the South East corner, we went to the Plaza Hotel (as it's in one of my future books). Unfortunately we could only get in as far as the lobby but one day I hope to be able to afford the cheapest room ($650 I believe) and experience The Plaza. Words cannot describe the beauty!

From there, Central Park Zoo (the penguins are awesome!), a walk through Central Park and walk back down 5th Avenue to 34th Street, Empire State Building and Penn Station.

I'm really shortening the trip here, but let me tell you, New York is a city that boasts with life. I loved it! The traffic and congestion didn't intimidate me at all, but I've lived in a big metropolis for 20 years before moving to the smaller town we're in right now.

I want to go back, but this time to experience NY at night, go to a few shows and the museums. Hopefully I'd be able to get away from the kiddies with the hubby to do all the things we would have loved to do this time, but couldn't because of the munchkins.

Wow! There goes the few paragraphs!

Have you been to New York? Did you have a great vacation you'd like to share?



Monday, August 6, 2012

Beautiful words

 Happy Civic Holiday to all Canadians!  Hope you have a great long-weekend.

 WORD FOR THIS POST:

Intimidate (v):  1. to make timid; fill with fear. 2. to overawe or cow, as through the force of personality or by superior display of wealth, talent, etc.
3. to force into or deter from some action by inducing fear: to intimidate a voter into staying away from the polls.
 
As I scour the internet reading blogs, articles and news, I'm often reminded how many people it takes to write everything I read. This directly equates to talent and I am in an absolute awe of writing talent.

My mind feels like a sponge soaking as much information in as possible, without dripping (or drooling in my case). How do they combine the words to make beautiful sentences that make sense and mesmerize me?
 
Others writing skills seem so well thought out, their words easy to read. The closest I can compare it to is taste of chocolate chip cookies (my favourite). Why does it seem that the most beautiful writing is easiest to read and understand?
 
It's similar to hearing public speakers and watching Olympians perform. It's a talent I only hope to have the strength and ability to learn as fluently as possible.

Sometimes it's intimidating, but mostly I feel empowered. Ready to take on the challenge. Thriving to improve, aiming to affect my readers as well.

Why am I writing about this today? Because I'm in the process of working on my fourth piece, a novella (perhaps a short novel from the way it's going) that will conclude the Two Halves series (unless an inspiration hits to write a fifth - you never know) and I'm reflecting on the past few years and how much my life has changed because of books and writing.

This week, it will be difficult to keep my concentration in tact as I get ready to leave for New York. So excited! I've been warned that it's big (well duh! - sorry, couldn't help it)  I've studied the map of Manhattan, made a schedule (it's pretty light so we can actually enjoy it) and all I have left to do is pack :) I'll write about my experience when I return (unless I find time while in NY :))
 
Cheers!



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

WORD FOR THIS POST:


Oscillate (v): 1. to swing or move to and fro, as a pendulum does. 2. to vary or vacillate between differing beliefs, opinions, conditions, etc.: He oscillates regularly between elation and despair.
A big Thanks to Captain Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting each first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG), where writers post their doubts, concerns and insecurities without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Others offer assistance and guidance in the comments.

For a full list of participants click here and hop on over to offer words of encouragement and/or assistance.


It's rare to find an individual without an insecurity. Most common ones for writers vary from fears of rejection and publication equally, to ones of bad reviews and inability to reach goals. Time management, finances, and other obligations always seem to stand in the way.

I've been thinking about my insecurity for this month for over a week and cannot come up with one. I think I've exhausted most of them over the past few months. But today, in turn, I'd like to offer encouragement to those who struggle.

Take it one day at a time.

Continue to perfect your craft.

Learn from others.

Give more than you receive.

Don't give up.

Olympians don't get to where they are if they don't take this to their heart. They are one of the most determined people I had ever seen. I get extremely emotional watching the Olympics because of their dedication and sacrifice to perfect their abilities. As a writer, I look up to them and pray I may achieve a fraction in my writing career what they have in their lifetime.

Do you have a mantra you follow to keep you on the right path? What is your insecurity this month?