Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

So, I'm a little late for the first and very...punctual for the latter. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, nonetheless! Ours was very nice and quiet. We stayed local this year, and opted NOT to make the 13 hour drive to northern California with two babies and a dog, tempting as it was. Can't believe it's our last Christmas in the desert!

Anyway, a few updates on the literary front. First, is that Heir of Pendel, book four in my Pandoran series, has a cover (and I LOVE IT). Some of you have already seen it, but for those who haven't, HERE SHE BE:

Second, is that I have OFFICIALLY handed her guts (aka the story) to my crit partners and betas! No one could be more excited about this than I am, because I get to take the month of January OFF. After working on this story almost every day for a year (and having a baby in the middle of that year), I am definitely looking forward to a respite, short as it is.

I'm right on track to having HoP out in May. When the pre-order is available, I'll let you all know. Right now, HoP comes in at just under 200K words, which is roughly DOUBLE the length of Gaia's Secret. So. Hope you're happy. :D

And now I shall occupy myself with some reading and video games (specifically Kingdoms of Amalur and Dragon Age: Inquisition - MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!!!), and then probably pay some much-needed attention to my very patient and loving husband (who I believe is a superhero in disguise).


P.S. I listen to a lot of music while drafting each story, because music brings me more inspiration than anything else. If there was a piece that could signify the end of HoP, it would be this:

Hans Zimmer - Time

Hans Zimmer is my fave. I listen to him the most.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Q&A: Heir of Pendel and a Bit About Writing

I get lots of questions about my books and writing in general, so here's a post addressing those topics. Thanks to those of you who submitted questions!

How long does it take to write a book?

As long as it takes! Lame answer, I know. But really. It depends on the person and the book. I've gotten faster, the more I've written, but then my stories seem to grow with each installment, which ends up taking more time anyway. It took me about three years to write Gaia's Secret and only about six months to write Keeper's. Breath of Dragons ended up 40% longer, and it took me almost a year (plus I had a baby in the middle of it). This last one (Heir of Pendel) is quite beefy and is the longest by far, at a whopping 161K words. (Also had a baby in the middle of this one.) So, yeah. It depends on your speed as a writer and the length and content of your book.

Why did you choose to write in the fantasy genre?

Because it's my favorite one to read! That's not to say I won't deviate...

How do you write a book? 

Oh, gosh. Well, there are entire books on this subject, but!...for the sake of this blog post, I will keep it short. It really depends on the person. Writers seem to fall into one of two camps: pantsters or outliners. I fall into the latter.

Pantsters may or may not have a plan. They might see a character or a setting or a plot idea in their mind, and then they just start writing, laying out the story as they go. That stresses me out. I just...I can't even. I have to have a plan, so I outline. Extensively. This would stress out my dear pantster, because they would say that outlining a story before-hand steals the magic of journey. Well, I can't relax and enjoy the journey if I don't know where I'm headed. Is one method better than the other? No. You have to go with whichever method works for you. Maybe it's some really delicate combo of the two with a sprinkling of pixie dust. What matters is that it works for YOU and gets you to a completed draft, which is the hard part.

This isn't to say that my stories end up EXACTLY as I've outlined them. They usually don't. I write my (exhaustive) outline, and then use my first draft to see which parts of my outline do or don't work. I like to keep my outlines fluid, so that if I'm struck by sudden inspiration, I have the power to keep writing in that direction.

But writing is more editing than anything. I write out a draft, and spend the rest of the time rewriting and fixing it.

How do you keep your thoughts organized with four books in a series?

How, indeed? Haha. It's tough! And with each book, it gets harder because there are that many more elements to keep organized in my head. What's saved me with this last book has been my writing software. It's been a great place for me to keep all my made-up things stored for quick and easy reference. Before that, I had multiple word doc's with lists of everything I'd made up - organization is key! And my critique partners and beta readers are awesome for pointing out things I've forgotten or accidentally contradicted. (You geniuses, you!)

Do some of your characters relate to people you know?

Yes! Except I'm not saying who :D We have to draw our inspiration from somewhere! So far, I don't have any one character that is an exact copy of someone I know, but I do steal personality traits and quirks from those around me to implement in my characters. Some are more obvious than others. There's a new character in HoP who is probably the closest copy I've ever made to someone from my real world. Sometimes I steal quotes, too, and my uncle is always claiming copyright infringement.

Do some of the instances in your books come from your own life experiences?

All my life experiences bleed into my stories in one way shape or form. We can't help it. We cast everything we write in the light of our worldview. But are there any specific instances? Eh. There are little things, like Daria is impervious to boiling liquids, and so am I. Much of the trekking through wilderness I write about comes from my own love and experiences hiking and traveling, so I definitely draw upon those. Oh, and dragons. I ride them in my spare time. Definitely.

What made you decide to start writing books?

I loved reading them so much I decided to start writing my own, and it was love at first...paragraph?

What's your biggest challenge with the writing process?

Self-doubt. Hands down. I try repeating the mantra, "artist first, critic later," but some days it's just hard. Some days those voices pummel you over the head with "this is terrible" or "you're in way over your head" or "no one really cares" or "the dog could write this better." It goes kinda like this:

As if wrestling with your own demons (or hair) isn't enough, there's the world beyond. You know not everyone is going to like your book(s). Some people hate cookie dough. I don't understand it, but it's true. But the internet has made it so easy for people to hide behind walls of data and code and, well, mean, like there's not really a person on the other side of that cover. It doesn't seem to matter how many good things you hear, because the equation goes something like this:

1,345,671,312 good comments + 1 negative comment = 1 negative, very terrible comment

It's some mathematical anomaly I just can't seem to figure out. Writing is hard enough without all that. So take a moment to thank your favorite authors. (And you'll almost always hear back!)

What is Indie Publishing and why did you do it?

This is another topic with oodles of information circulating out there. What it boils down to is this: There are two routes for publishing. Traditional Publishing and Indie Publishing (aka Self Publishing). Tradition publishing means you've probably gotten yourself a literary agent, who then shopped your book to a major publishing house, like Simon and Schuster or Random House, etc., and then THEY sell your books. Indie Publishing means you handle everything yourself. But that doesn't mean you do everything yourself.

I like to think of it like building a house. I could hire a contractor (traditional) or I could contract everything on my own (indie). Indie/Self-pub has gotten a bad rap in the past because what makes it great is also what makes it terrible: Anyone can publish a book. Yes, anyone. So, you get a wide spread from the really great to the really terrible. (For that matter, there are some pretty bad books that get published traditionally, but you can at least expect the level of writing to be above a certain threshold...)

Indie has risen leaps and bounds over the past decade due to the surge in ebook popularity and the option of Print-on-Demand (POD). Authors no longer NEED a traditional publishing house to build a platform to sell their books; authors can use the internet to connect with readers and sell on major websites, like Amazon. Also, because of POD, Indie authors don't need to buy 2,039,403,298 copies of their own books to sell them. Createspace, a division of Amazon, prints them as they're purchased. Genius.

I chose to go the "indie" route because I wanted to have the ultimate say in what I did as an artist. Granted, I still have a professional team around me. I have critique partners and beta readers and an editor and cover artist who are all BRILLIANT. The difference is that  _I_  got to pick them. That's not to say I would never try the traditional route. I believe both routes have a lot of very different and very good things to offer, and I've enjoyed this crazy indie road every step of the way!

Now for some actual book questions...

Now that Daria and Alex are separated, how will we get updates on both sides of the story?

Good question! Heir of Pendel will alternate between Daria and Alex's POV, with a few interjections from Stefan. You wanted more from Alex? More than half the book takes place is in his head. :D For the record, it took him awhile to open up to me. He likes to keep his cards close.

Will there be lots of Thad in Heir of Pendel?

Yes, though Thad would probably argue there's not nearly enough. (I honestly don't think he'll be satisfied until he gets a memoir.)

Will we get to see more dragons? And what drew you to dragons?

Absolutely. As far as what drew me to them, I've always been intrigued by dragons and books about dragons. There's something just so...magical about them. And terrifying. It was Skyrim that ultimately pushed me over the edge, though. By the way, Skyrim is the greatest game ever. Who knew you could have that much fun making venison stew???

Does Stefan know that his sister has gone to marry Danton?

Not at the end of BoD, but he finds out in HoP.

Do you see Alex and Daria living in the real world?

That's a great question. :D

Who are Vera's parents, and why did Mercedes take her in?

There's a short answer to this in Breath of Dragons. Vera's parents died in service to Mercedes when Vera was very young, and as an honor to them, Mercedes adopted Vera, though I use "adopt" loosely. There will be more background on Vera in HoP.

What was your inspiration for Gesh?

For Gesh, I knew I wanted something tropical, like a natural spa. There'd been so much dreary cold and winter, I needed to thaw. There isn't any one thing that inspired Gesh, though. It's mostly a culmination of things I love. For instance: the Roman Pool at Hearst Castle in Central California inspired the baths in Gesh. If you've never heard of Hearst castle, or its Roman Pool, here you go and you're welcome:

Oh, and this picture:

Fantasia's Night on Bald Mountain inspired the emergence of the white dragon. The rest, I just had a lot of fun with while trying to make the setting as warm and romantic as I possibly could, so that Gesh could serve as a kind of respite for them.

Will Daria really wear red to her wedding, and will Alex rush in and declare his love? (because he seriously needs to lighten up a little)

Haha! As for the first part, I can't really answer that without, you know, the usual SPOILS, and Alex...well, he's rushing around a lot, lately. He's learning a lot about himself, too. How's that for an answer?

When will Heir of Pendel be released?

The question I hear the most. I have some good and bad news is. The bad news is that it will not be released in January, as I'd hoped. It's looking more like summer of 2015. But the good news is that the reason it's taking longer is because the story is so much longer. If you consider that good news. :D I'll keep you posted if it changes. I have the best husband in the entire world, and he was off last week and let me run off to a coffee shop for a few hours every day while he watched the kids, and I was able to wrap up this monster draft! Which means I will now be editing and editing and editing some more.

If I haven't told you guys lately, I love you...thanks so much for caring and sending your enthusiasm my way while I work hard to finish this series!

Oh, and don't forget...if you want to receive updates, discounts, and exclusive content for my books, join my email list HERE.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hoo-Hoo! (...Baby #2 and Book #4 progress...)

Sooooo it's been a few months, and my blog was beginning to look like this:

...which is sorta how my head feels at the moment. 

Anyway! At some point last week, it finally dawned on me that we're having another baby boy in one month. I *sorta* had a mini-panic attack, and then I took a nap. It was probably the best thing ever. This whole pregnancy has gone by so fast, because...

(1) Contrasting last pregnancy, this time around has been a walk in the park. Seriously. I can walk in the park. Those of you who had the mischance of speaking to me during that other period of my life know that a walk in the park is a HUGE DEAL.

(2) Chasing Brahm, who is 1.5yrs old and EVERYWHERE AT THE SAME TIME, has kept me, um, preoccupied, and

(3) What little mental capacity I have left has all been going into writing book 4.

I've spaced on so many things, like phone calls and emails (sorry!) and water bills. No, really, I forgot to pay our water bill and they shut our water off. Luckily, I caught it soon enough and it was back on within a few hours. Not my proudest moment...


I've had numerous questions on the progress of Book #4 (Heir of Pendel), so I'd thought I'd address that here before I experience yet another tumbleweed infestation. I'm working hard on it every single day, and still shooting for a release of January 2015. So far, that deadline seems feasible; I've already finished one draft. I've been keeping track of my progress on this blog, so if you're ever curious, you can look for yourself in the upper right-hand corner, just below this blog's header.

But it's coming right along and so far, I've had so much fun writing it. I can't always say that about books. That being said, I'm not sure how my pace will keep up once Baby #2 arrives, so please bear with me! I'm doing everything I can before he comes, because, you know, even after I finish draft two, it still has to go to my alpha-reader, my crit-partners, my betas, and editor, while I'm also making necessary revisions between each stage. I'll try my hardest to keep up with deadlines, and if things need to change, I'll let you know. (Unless Thad gets ahold of my laptop and outs me first. He's already threatened me once.)

Thanks again so much for all your enthusiasm and support, and for loving my imaginary friends as much as I guys are the best! You have no idea how much it fuels my inspiration. And thanks for sticking with me while I work hard to give you the best ending I possibly can.


***Join My Exclusive Email List for HoP (#4) Updates, Discounts, and Exclusive Content***

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Breath of Dragons is on Tour!

Hey, guys!

My latest book, Breath of Dragons, is on tour through March 20th! I've posted the schedule below, with links to all the participating hosts where I'll be guest blogging.

I'm also doing a huge giveaway, so enter in the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

Book Tour Schedule...

February 23 - Introduction at VBT CafĂ© Blog
February 25 - Guest Blogging at Reader's Cubby
February 27Interviewed at KWOD Radio
February 27Guest Blogging at WWBB
February 27Guest Blogging at Hazel West's Character Purgatory
March 3 - Guest Blogging at  Mythical Books
March 5 - Guest Blogging at I know that book
March 7 - Guest Blogging at Cherry Mischievous
March 7 - Guest Blogging at Lori's Reading Corner
March 12 - Guest Blogging at Books & Tales
March 12 - Guest Blogging at Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
March 14 - Reviewed at AG LANG Writes Writers and Books 
March 14 -Reviewed at Brooke Blogs
March 18 - Guest Blogging at Book Suburbia
March 18 - Reviewed at sarit yahalomi
March 20 - Guest Blogging at Book Reviews by xunaira J.
March 20 - Reviewed at The Broken Bookshelf

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Release Aftermath...and Book #4.

Last week was a pretty big (& tiresome) week for me, because Breath of Dragons FINALLY left the house! Am I suffering from empty nest syndrome? No. No, no, no. Brahm's still here (and, apparently, acquiring all four canines simultaneously), and his unborn brother kicks me in all my downtime. Plus, there's still book #4, which I will discuss momentarily, but first...

You guys have been SO ENCOURAGING and supportive...THANK YOU! And thanks to those of you who participated in the launch party...I would hug all of you if I could! It's taken me a bit longer to get Breath of Dragons in your hands, and I appreciate your patience. It's amazing what an additional ~150 pages in length does to your deadlines. O.o

I wanted to give you guys some stats from last week. To celebrate the arrival of BoD, Gaia's Secret (book 1) was free on Kindle. Because of your support, Gaia's Secret actually made it into the #1 slots of it's categories. See...???

So where does that leave us? Well, I don't know about you, but it leaves me back on the couch. Which is where I've been, and where I am once more, faithfully destroying this cushion while working on the final installment in this series. I'm *hoping* to have it to you in January of 2015. I'd love to say it'll be done later this year, and if the planets align and Hermione's time-turner suddenly drops in my lap, perhaps it will be.


I will do my best to update you with my progress, and in the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions or thoughts or concerns (or anything else, for that matter). If there is a delay, please note that it is only due to the fact that I've returned to my writing cave (which is equivalent to being trapped inside the Cave of Wonders).

Thank you so much again for all your enthusiasm and encouragement; you give me the courage to keep moving during those difficult days. I also know how frustrating it is reading a series before its completion, so thank you for your indefatigable patience!


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