Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Summon the Seasons--Rough Draft Finished!

I had thought last night about putting up a musical tribute to George Harrison for today (yesterday was the 15th anniversary of his passing), but I was busy with another project--finishing the rough draft of Summon the Seasons, the fifth (and final) book in the Season Avatars series. I'd like to think George would approve, as Kay is the spiritual one in this quartet. I finally managed to complete the draft after 11:00. It's about 94,000 words, making it the longest book in the series. (Not surprising, since I have to tie up all the loose ends.) I started this in April, so it's definitely not a NaNoWriMo project. The entire series was about a twenty-year project, so I have good reason to celebrate. Time to take some time away from this book, catch up on reading and other writing projects, and not return to Summon the Seasons until next year. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite George Harrison songs:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Five Questions for Ysabel from Fifth Season

Today the eBook version of Fifth Season officially goes live. To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to conduct an interview with Ysabel, the main character. Picture her in a parlor decorated in red, with colorful leaves and nuts in vases. She sits in front of a lit fireplace and drinks mulled cider. Her cat, Pouncer, curls contentedly next to her while rain pounds the windows.

1. You're the first Season Avatar to have both Challen (native) and Selathen (foreign) ancestry. Do you think this is significant?

Ysabel--The Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen make sure all souls are reborn into suitable lives, but They take special care with Their Avatars. In fact, the Goddess of Fall asked my mother to marry a Selathen man. My mother has been teaching Selathen women about The Four, but I've also learned how to speak Selathen and how to behave around Selathen men. I'm sure at some point in my career I'll need those skills.

2 If you weren't a Season Avatar, what would you do with your life?

Ysabel--Oh, I definitely want to have at least four children, but I'd still like to work with animals. Maybe I would breed or train horses. (I'd add dogs, but since my anilink is a cat, I don't think that would be a good idea.)

3. The Goddess of Fall doesn't like men, but you want to have lots of children someday. Has there ever been a conflict between your duty and your desire? If so, how did you handle it?

Ysabel--Fall would probably want all of Her Avatars to pledge themselves as Fallswomen, women who choose not to marry for whatever reason they choose. She does allow us to marry, but I'd never marry someone who didn't like animals. (lowers voice) What I'd really like is to spend one life as a man, just to compare. All of the other Avatars switch between male and female, but Fall won't let us be men. Maybe someday She'll forgive men for whatever crime they committed....

4. Does it ever get confusing remembering other lives?

Ysabel (smiles)--All the time! Sometimes I think I visited a place in my current life when it was really in a previous one. I'm always reincarnated alongside Gwen, Jenna, and Kay, but sometimes I think I must have known other people in previous lives. And I always have to refer to history or fashion to remember which life occurred when. But the good thing about remembering other lives is that I don't have to start over learning about animals. Memories of animals are clearer than personal memories. In every life, I always learn something new.

5. What's your favorite animal and why?

Ysabel--By the Four, how can you pick just one? Cats are graceful, birds are beautiful, and even fish can be fascinating. I guess I'll have to pick my anilink, Pouncer. (rubs him behind the ears) Pouncer and I can mentally communicate with each other, even if we're not touching. He can sense when Chaos Season happens anywhere in Challen....(Pouncer bolts for the door, fur raised along his spine.) Oh no, another Chaos Season! I must go! (dashes off)

Er, thank you, Ysabel, and good luck taming Chaos Season! Don't forget to read her story in Fifth Season. If you haven't caught up with the Season Avatars yet, you can do so by reading Seasons' Beginnings, Scattered Seasons, and Chaos Season first.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Interview with Susan Darlene Faw

As part of the massive Instafreebie giveaway I'm participating in this week, authors and bloggers are performing a little cross-promotion on each other's blogs. Today I'm hosting Susan Darlene Faw, author of Seer of Souls.

The time for hiding is finished. The dead are restless. She is COMING...

Twins Cayden and Avery Tiernan have grown up in isolation on the fringe of the realm. Gifted with forbidden skills, they hide their growing magical powers. Ancient prophecies speak of the ones with the power to depose the queen.

To protect her throne, Queen Alcina scours the land for evidence of magic, while the darker force she serves threatens the land with chaos. She is not the only huntress however. Primordial seekers discover the twins first but before they can escape, the death of a queen’s guard puts the entire village in jeopardy. To save their town, the twins flee, only to be dragged toward an unknown destiny.

Guided by her gift, Avery senses lies and treachery where others see only truth. Dare she trust her instincts? For Cayden, an irresistible voice whispers to him. Does it belong to the souls of the dead and are they calling him home?

I have two more books written and published in the series, a prequel entitled Soul Survivor, which I give away for free as an introduction to the series via instafrerbie to grow my mailing list & fan base. ( )
Book two is a January release.

Here's a short interview with Susan:

1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

2. Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I am building a series of books (prequel plus 3) that will be a box set. You could read the books independently but you will get more out of them if you read them in order. I will always write in series, I am simply think in grand scales!

3. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? The $20.00 per month subscription cost for Instafreebie. It’s dynomite!

4. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Ten, because my first book was picked up by a publisher and all focus swung that way, but until then, I had started a few other series to see how I felt about what I wanted to write next. When the Spirit Shield Saga finishes up in the spring of 2017, I have my next new novel already 1/3 written, a nice boost if I say so myself!

5. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? I read them, but mostly try to ignore them. I never look at Goodreads reviews, and only Amazon so that I can keep count as I am pushing for a certain level of book reviews before the launch of my next book in the series in January. It’s called Soul Sanctuary and I just put it up for pre-order, today!

6. Does your family support your career as a writer?
What, mom is a writer?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Giveaway!

Networking is a beautiful thing. Thanks to a self-publishing mailing list that I belong to, I was able to join a major science fiction/fantasy book giveaway being held on Instafreebie. It's running through November 26th, and over 40 authors are participating. You can see the entire list of available books here, including my work, Scattered Seasons. In return for these freebies, you will be asked to join that author's mailing list for each book you download. There's bound to be something for every SF/fantasy fan, so check it out.

Lady Gwendolyn lo Havil is an Ava Spring, born to heal others and lead the Season Avatars of her generation. Season Avatars with divine magic must work in groups of four to save the country of Challen from Chaos Season, times when all of the seasons appear at once. When the current Ava Spring dies in a riding accident, Gwen must find the other three Season Avatars she will link with.  But two of them are missing, and with Gwen's own magic crippled by a cursed pottery shard, she will have to use all of her skills to find the Avatars scattered across the country of Challen. During her journey, she meets a stranger who claims to know the shard's origin. Is he truly an ally of the Season Avatars, or is he trying to stop them from uniting?

Don't forget Seasons' Beginnings, the first book of the series, is permafree at major eBook retailers. You can find your favorite store through this link.

Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. When he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fifth Season--Teaser

I'm a little late posting today since I was too tired last night to decide on a topic, let alone write the post. I did manage to approve the physical proof of Fifth Season, so that should be appearing in online bookstores soon. I plan to send out the newsletter announcement once it appears. In the meantime, here's a teaser from the first chapter:

Pouncer yowled. For a heartbeat, Ysabel thought he was agreeing with Gwen, but he had enough intelligence to send the group a simple "yes." There was a deeper concern under his feral cry.

Pouncer, what is it?

He hesitated for several heartbeats before replying, Not know. Strange beasts.

Ysabel deepened her link with her cat so she could share his senses. Even that didn't tell her much. The disturbance was far south of here, right where Challen and Selath met at the Salt Waters. Although anilinks could sense Chaos Season anywhere it occurred in Challen, she was still surprised Pouncer's range extended so far. Perhaps the distance explained why the creatures felt so strange. There were at least two of them, but she couldn't identify what they were. They bore feathers, but they were too big to fly, especially with their stumpy wings. They ran quickly despite the darkness, as if night was their preferred time. If so, perhaps their large eyes helped them see. Moonlight glinted off of them in a way that made Ysabel shiver. Pouncer found the creatures again as they ran into the forest, then they vanished from his senses.

Ysabel broke her links with Pouncer and her sister Avatars. "By All Four Gods and Goddesses, what were those things?"

Gwen rubbed her temples as if the secondhand visions had given her a headache. "You're the animal expert, Ysabel. If you don't recognize them, we certainly won't."

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mid-Series Marketing

It's hard to believe Fifth Season will be released in two weeks. I uploaded the hopefully-this-is-final digital version last week to Amazon and Draft 2 Digital. I ordered a second proof copy to double-check formatting before approving the paper version for sale. One thing I haven't done much of, though, is marketing. I've been very busy at work, and I'm slowly but surely working on the climax of Summon the Seasons, the final book in the Season Avatars series. This is what I have so far for marketing for Fifth Season:

1. Announcement to my newsletter subscribers when the paper version is available.
2. Placing ads. I applied for one ad yesterday, so hopefully it will be approved soon. I have to check a few other ad spots to see if they have openings, especially for new releases.
3. Organizing a Rafflecopter with other authors. We already have several authors lined up, but I haven't had a chance to do much with this yet.

The problem with marketing Book Four is that no conscientious reader will want to start the series there. They'll want to start with Book One, Seasons' Beginnings, but it doesn't have a lot of reviews, which makes advertising difficult. That means I have to go with a Plan B. Once I finish the rough draft of Summon the Seasons, I can work on a short story collection I plan to put into Kindle Unlimited, at least for the short term. Hopefully the collection will entice readers to seek out the rest of the series.

If you write series, how do you market later books? Do you do anything with them, or do you focus on the first book and hope readers will continue with the series? Even if you're not a series author, feel free to comment.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Guest Post--Crystal Collier and the Funny Side of Armor

Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and some medieval funnies!

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N


Thank you Sandra for having me here today!

Recently, I completed TIMELESS, the third book in my Maiden of Time trilogy. A little time travel. A few good battles. Some scary monsters... But while writing this series I had to study dual time periods: 1768-72 AD, and good old medieval times (mid 1200's). Can you imagine living in a time where warfare was a seasonal and routine thing? Okay boys, it's fighting season!

Every woman dreams of her knight in shining armor, but in reality, armor used to be...

That's right! The business suit. Out to negotiate business? Take the armor. And the shield. And beware flaming arrows.

And don't forget your trusty sidekick.

Since only the rich could afford the fancy armor, they had to put up with the
discomfort of high fashion.

The average weight of chainmail was between 27 and 55 pounds. (12 to 25 kg)

Personally, I'd rather take today's fashions. How about you?

While it's not the most amazing time to have lived, it makes for one dynamic backdrop for an epic story. Don't you agree? Now go buy my books. (What? It had to be said.)

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog.

Do you love stories set in medieval times? What is your favorite medieval movie/story?

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

Monday, November 07, 2016

Famous Curses in History

If you're anywhere near the Midwest, you probably heard a lot of Cubs fans shrieking and setting off fireworks last week when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a 108-year-drought. (I can personally attest to the fireworks going off when I was trying to sleep.) I'm not interested in sports, but the curse aspect intrigues me. The curse supposedly began when a fan and his goat were ejected from Wrigley Field during Game 4 of the 1945 World Series. The goat actually had a ticket, but it was deemed to be too smelly. The goat's owner then proclaimed, "The Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." Since then, numerous attempts were made to break the curse, including both goat sacrifices and bringing goats into Wrigley Field. I don't know if anything is being proclaimed as the curse-breaker other than the players themselves.

I don't believe curses are real; I think people are so good at finding patterns that they discover them even when they're not there. There are always going to be unusual streaks of incidents, but people remember what supports their belief and reject what doesn't (confirmation bias). Still, curses are interesting and can inspire story ideas, so here are a few other famous historical curses:

Curse of Tippecanoe: From 1840 to 1960, every president elected in a year ending in zero (which happens every twenty years) died in office. Four were assassinated, and three died of natural causes. This curse was supposedly cast by Tecumseh's brother  after the Battle of Tippecanoe. Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, was shot during his term but survived, as did George W. Bush, elected in 2000.

The Hope Diamond is claimed to bring death to its owners, though it seems some of the stories told about the gem were invented to give it an aura of mystery and for publicity. So far, the Smithsonian doesn't seem to suffer from owning it.

Tutankhamun's Tomb: Anyone who disturbs the tomb of a mummy, particularly a pharaoh, is doomed to have bad luck. The opening of King Tut's tomb, which was found in 1922, is considered a prime example of the curse. Lord Carnarvon, who funded the discovery, died about four months after the tomb was opened. He had an infected mosquito bite that gave him blood poisoning. His death fueled rumors of the curse, and even Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, believed in tomb guardians that had caused Lord Carnarvon's death. However, 58 people were present when King Tut's tomb was opened, and only eight of them died within a dozen years. Even Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb, lived until 1939.

I was aware of the above curses before researching this blog post, but I hadn't heard of the Curse of Turan before. This is a curse on the entire country of Hungary in 1000 A.D. for converting to Christianity. The curse was supposed to last for 1,000 years, so it should be over by now. However, Hungarians still have short life expectancies compared to other European countries, and they have a high rate of suicide (ranked 9th worldwide).

Do you find curses interesting? Have you read any interesting stories about curses? If so, feel free to describe them in the comments.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

IWSG: Five Things I Like about Writing

Best of luck to everyone participating in National Novel Writing Month! I'm sitting out this year. I still have to finish editing Fifth Season and upload the final draft to the various distributors and complete the rough draft of Summon the Seasons. Once those tasks are done, I have to plan some publicity for Fifth Season's release, return to (and hopefully finish) some short stories, and pre-plan my next series (urban fantasy, tentatively a trilogy at this point). Add on work, family, and three Star Wars troop this month, and I already have plenty on my plate without adding on NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, it's time for another post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. The co-hosts for this month are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary AalgaarLisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains. This month, we've been asked to answer the following question: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

Rather than sticking with just one, I thought I'd see how many I can come up with. Here's my list:

1. Flow--It may sound odd, but some of my earliest experiences of "flow" (a state of mind in which you're fully immersed in your task) during writing came during history essay exams in high school. However, flow occurs when a high skill level meets a high challenge, so I guess those tests were challenging! Flow is a very rewarding and fulfilling state of mind, though it seems harder to reach these days with constant environmental and social distractions.

2. When plotting works out--When inspiration strikes and I can suddenly see how to connect two different ideas into a single story or when something spontaneously I wrote earlier connects with another part of the plot, it's quite satisifying.

3. Reaching "The End" of a rough draft--Even if I know the story still needs a lot of work, I still feel like I accomplished something.

4. Seeing the Cover/Getting the Proof--These are always exciting moments that bring a story closer to publication.

5. Hearing from Readers--Writing is a form of communication. One of the main reasons I write is to connect with somebody else out there who truly "gets" what I'm trying to say. If a story moves you, let the author know!

What do you like most about writing or being a writer? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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