Friendsgiving Feedback Follow-Up!

Remember back in November when we did the free query critique thing? This morning, awesome news was in my in-box!

Just wanted to send you a quick thank you. I sent out my first batch of queries this month with the query you critiqued. So far, I’ve gotten 3 full requests and 1 partial. I’ve still got quite a few outstanding queries, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your assistance. 
– AUTHOR

Prior to the query critique this author felt they were struggling. The original query wasn’t getting much traction. With the new query… four sent queries, four page requests. I really loved the query and the premise of the book, and I’m hoping the author will email me soon to say they’ve signed with an agent!

I don’t have any more critique-giveaways planned at the moment (but I probably will later this year) you can always book a Query Packet Critique if you want me to help you with your query, first five pages, and synopsis.

 

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: CHASE ME by Farrah Rochon

What was she thinking?

The last thing Indina Holmes needs in her life is three days on the open seas with her loving but nosy family. But that’s exactly what she’s in store for her when her brother guilts her into joining the Holmes family reunion cruise. When she needs a cabin mate at the last minute, her only option is the co-worker she’s been sleeping with for the past year. Now, she just has to keep her family from trying to play matchmaker.

What was he thinking?

For the past eight months, Griffin Sims has pretended to be okay with the co-worker-with-benefits arrangement he’s had going with Indina, but he wants more than just her body. He wants a real relationship. Indina’s invitation to join her on a cruise is exactly the opportunity Griffin has been looking for to prove to the woman who has been sharing his bed that it’s time for her to share her heart.

$2.99
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks 

USA Today Bestselling author Farrah Rochon hails from a small town just west of New Orleans. She has garnered much acclaim for her Holmes Brothers, New York Sabers, Bayou Dreams and Moments in Maplesville series. I’ll Catch You, the second book in her New York Sabers series for Harlequin Kimani, was a 2012 RITA ® Award finalist. Yours Forever, the third book in the Bayou Dreams series, was a 2015 RITA® Award finalist. Farrah has been nominated for an RT BOOKReviews Reviewers Choice Award, and in 2015 received the Emma Award for Author of the Year.

When she is not writing in her favorite coffee shop, Farrah spends most of her time reading, cooking, traveling the world, visiting Walt Disney World, and catching her favorite Broadway shows. An admitted sports fanatic, Farrah feeds her addiction to football by watching New Orleans Saints games on Sunday afternoons.

Website | Twitter – @FarrahRochon | Amazon Author Page | Instagram | Facebook 

 

Mother of Teens: Talking (photo)Shop


I’m not ashamed to say I’m part of the Google Generation, a Millennial. My first home computer was a clunky laptop my father brought home from work when I was six, it had a word processor and chess. I played Oregon Trail at school and learned how to draw colorful circles with DOS commands. I had my first email address by 13 and ran unsupervised through the chat rooms as a teen. I never had MySpace, but I asked my now-husband out on our first date over AIM.

So it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that I’m pretty okay with my kids using tech. My youngest (who is almost 5) calls the hand-me-down computer in the living room the “kid’s TV” and can’t seem to tell the difference between a computer and a smart TV. To be honest, neither can I. They both run the internet, hook up to keyboards, and play games. We’re living in a technological world that is immersive and global, and that’s why I sat down with my kids this week to have The Talk.

No, not the “sex is a healthy thing but please wait until you can comfortably discuss birth control before getting naked” talk. I have four kids. You can’t lie about pregnancy that many times, not when your kids want details every five seconds. We discussed sex, birth control, penises, vaginas, and menstrual cycles already. The younger two will get that talk again, mostly because my son thinks having a period sounds great because he knows it involves getting a candy bar. I think the whole messy blood part might have gone over his head.

But, that’s for another time. This week we talked about the art of photo manipulation, aka Photoshop.

For all my internet savvy, I grew up kind of clueless about how the models in magazines looked so flawless. I wondered how they got their eyelashes so thick and long, and it wasn’t until my 20’s that I realized all these women I saw on TV and in ads were wearing tons of makeup, fake eyelashes, wigs or extensions, and often had digital retouching done to their photos. As a kid, that dinged my fragile self worth. I was borderline anorexic for years because I was terrified of being too fat to be pretty.

And this week a fabulous teaching tool came to my attention. Enter MEITU! This fabulous photo app is actually produced by a cellphone company in China whose phones feature high-def front-facing cameras perfect for taking selfies.

Guess who can’t take a selfie to save her life? THIS GIRL!

But I was bored and decided to download the Meitu app earlier this week so I could play with it. So, here’s me first thing in the morning. It’s -20 outside, I’m wearing my Jamaican Bobsled Team shirt, some leggings, and I haven’t had breakfast. I forced a smile, and then because I didn’t like it I went to Meitu’s editing feature and slimmed my face. I pulled my cheeks in, widened my tired eyes, and picked a filter that removes the blotchy redness from my skin.

But why stop there???

With a few changes I could be Kawaii as Hello Kitty!

Tip tap, and there I go! Big eyes, rosy cheeks, shiny highlights, and adorable little stickers!!! They even added a lip tint. Sure, it doesn’t actually look like me, but I’m adorable!

My kids notice when I’m not watching them like a hawk (or maybe they noticed me giggling like a maniac) so they flocked around.

“Mom, why do you look so weird?”

… cue the discussion of international views of beauty, Batman!

Meitu is designed with a Chinese aesthetic for beauty in mind. That means a skin whitening tool (when most North Americans would prefer a tan) and a an auto-feature that makes your chin pointed (because heart-shaped faces are preferred over round ones I guess???).

I took the kids pictures and let them go to town. They slimmed their already skinny faces. They widened eyes and added makeup (one of the tools gives you a perfect cat-eye). And we talked about how this is done. About why people change who they are online.

This is something kids need to know about before they hit their teens. You need to sit down, look at a magazine together, and point out where a digital artist changed the person to fit the needs of the ad. Talk about branding. Talk about aesthetics. Talk about beauty standards and why what you see in magazines, movies, or instagram is not real. Our kids are growing up in a world where everyone can present a false front. Where you can carefully curate your existence so people see only what you want to see.

If you don’t understand that the lives you see online are photoshopped, and you start comparing to them to your unfiltered reality, the risks for depression, self-harm, and eating disorders increase. I’ve walked down that road. I don’t want my kids to. So I tore down the curtain and let them see the digital magic happening.

Once you know the full range of the digital vanities that exist you become much happier. You realize that everyone’s beautifully imperfect. And, fun as these little apps are, what’s even better is being happy off of Instagram.

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: STEAL THE LIGHTNING by Tim Lees

 

In the newest Field Ops adventure, god hunter Chris Copeland must track down an enigmatic figure distributing shards of deities to unwitting citizens across the country.

Chris Copeland has a bizarre job, seeking out gods to convert into energy, but when he’s tasked with retrieving a deity from an elderly woman in New York, he’s truly out of his element. Before he can learn who sold her the dangerous object, she swallows a piece of it and goes into painful convulsions in front of his eyes.

Calling himself Johnny Appleseed, an elusive man has stolen fragments of gods and is traversing the country, peddling the contraband as a miracle cure to anyone desperate enough to believe him. With the help of his colleague, Angel, and a documentary filmmaker intent on exposing the Registry’s secrets, Chris must chase down the culprit and recover the stolen gods before all hell breaks loose.

$3.99
HarperCollins | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | BAM | iBooks US | iBooks UK

Tim Lees is a British author living in Chicago. His short fiction has appeared in Interzone, Black Static, Great Jones Street and elsewhere. He is the author of Frankenstein’s Prescription (Tartarus Press), and the Field Ops novels, The God Hunter and Devil in the Wires (HarperVoyager). All books can be read as stand-alones. When not writing, he has held a variety of jobs, including film extra, teacher, conference organizer, and worker in a psychiatric hospital. He has a website at www.timlees.wordpress.com (when he has time to update it), tweets as @TimLees2, and holds an Instagram account as tim.c.lees.

 

 

 

The “I Love You” List … things you need to have in an emergency

Tragedies happen.

No one wants to think about funerals when they’re 21, but horrible things happen that can leave you incapacitated or killed at any age. This isn’t covered by high school, it’s rarely mentioned in college, but if you’re paying your own bills you need to make sure that your friends and family can take care of your accounts if the worst happens.

The I LOVE YOU box (or folder) is a quick way to gather all the information someone would need to take care of your house, pets, kids, and creative work in the event that you couldn’t be there due to death or severe injury. I know, this is morbid. No one wants to dwell on their death, especially when they’re young and healthy. You don’t want to think about leaving your pets, or your lover, or your kids. But the reality is… death won’t ignore you just because you ignore death.

Take it from someone who has sat with widows whose husbands never prepared for death, who saw a life insurance payout go to a stingy in-law rather than to the family, as someone who sat wide-eyed and shocked when the ex-wife was honored at a funeral but not the current spouse. If you don’t prepare for this, someone else will be left struggling to deal with it. For most adults who die suddenly, that means leaving a grieving partner to struggle through this (which is selfish), or allowing a distant family member to muddle through as best they can (which often ends terribly for those who knew you best).

Do a favor for the ones you love, and get the basic prep work for death handled now. Make a will. Make a will specifying what you want done with your creative works. Make sure anyone you care for (pets, kids, elderly relatives) will be provided for in the event of your death.

The bonus here is that knowing where all this information is will make everything from vacationing to paying taxes that much easier. So, get organized. You’ll thank yourself later.

The MUST HAVE Six:

  1. Account passwords. (where to find account and password info) 
  2. Bank Information
  3. Birth certificates
  4. Insurance Information (home, renter, VPP, auto, life, etc.)
  5. Medical Information
  6. Will

 

Below is an alphabetized list of additional items you may want to include in your box.

Appraisals for jewelry/furniture/etc.
Bank Information
Birth Certificates
Car Registration
Contact Information (next of kin, roommate, work associates, religious leader, ect)
Copies of IDs
Copy of passport/s
IEP/EFMP paperwork (Individual Education Plan/Exceptional Family Member Program paperwork for children)
Email accounts
Care Plan (this is a military thing – if you don’t know what it is, don’t worry)
List of family rules (so children have a sense of normalcy)
List of known allergies (for you, your pets, and your children)
Schedule
Special Traditions (things that would be done on birthdays or anniversaries)
Directions for handling of creative work (art, writing, poetry, ect – see This Post By Neil Gaiman)
Insurance Information (home, renter, VPP, auto, life, ect)
Marriage Certificate
Medical Information (immunizations list, list of known medical conditions for everyone in the house, doctor’s contact info, list of medications, veterinary information ect)
Medical history of close blood relatives (for doctor’s use if someone is incapacitated but not killed)
Mortgage Information
Most recent work contract/military orders/ect
Power of Attorney (general and specific allowing whomever you choose to close accounts for you or talk to banks)
Obituary Requests (where would you like it published, who should write it, ect)
Realtor Contact Number
Rental/Lease Agreement
School Information (contact numbers, school schedules, ect)
Social media accounts (including passwords and what you’d like done with your account)
Social security cards (copies or location where they are stored)
Stocks or Certificates
Vehicle titles
Vet Info For Pets
Will

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: NINE OF STARS by Laura Bickle

 


Following on the heels of her critically acclaimed prequel novels Dark Alchemy and Mercury Retrograde comes the first installment in Laura Bickle’s dark contemporary fantasy series, Nine of Stars, a Wildlands Novel

Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors—especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.

The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill—a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.

It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all—before the trail turns deathly cold.

 

$4.99
Amazon     HarperCollins       Kobo       GooglePlay       BN

“Bickle is well on her way to establishing her work as a cornerstone of her genre.”  – Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“Following the prequels Dark Alchemy and Mercury Retrograde, Bickle’s series launch mixes alchemy, folklore, and Native American traditions with a wintry Western landscape that will intrigue fans of the Weird West subgenre.” – Library Journal

“Readers who like no-nonsense characters, the occult, Native American myths, and the modern Wild West will enjoy this. The writing is fun, compelling, and straight from the hip, with no apologies as to language used.” – Booklist

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology-Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

More information about Laura’s work can be found at www.laurabickle.com

https://twitter.com/Laura_Bickle   https://www.facebook.com/Author.Laura.Bickle

Sign up to get the weekly Impulse Buy in your inbox and be entered for a chance to win a hot new book each month! In January you have the chance to win INVASIVE by Chuck Wendig!

 

What’s Ahead In 2017

If 2016 was the year I was busy behind-the-scene, 2017 is the year you get to finally see all those stories I’ve been teasing for the last twelve months. Big things are coming and I’m excited.

SPRING RELEASES
THE DARKNESS AND GOOD ANTHOLOGY – a collection short stories written by Amy Laurens and myself. Most of these stories were first published on the Darkness & Good blog. The stories in the anthology have been edited, and in some cases expanded.
BODIES IN MOTION – In war, Selena Caryll and Titan Sciarra were bitter enemies. Now that the fleet is grounded and fighting for survival these two find that the best future is the one the build together (if they don’t kill each other first). This is a SFR novella that kicks off the new Newton’s Law universe.

SUMMER RELEASES
FOUNDATION STONES – Captain Kamara of the King’s Guard would rather see the king’s nephews hang than consider any of them as a replacement for her aging, childless liege, but when one of them frames her for the murder of the king… well, the enemy of her enemy is a man she’ll at least plan a prison break with. This is a fantasy novel that will be serialized on the blog over the summer.

FALL RELEASES TBA

WINTER RELEASES
FOUNDATION STONES – After being serialized on the blog I’ll collect the chapters, run through one more edit taking into account any comments left by readers, and publish the ebook in winter 2017.

 

Where am I moving this summer??? I still have no clue. My husband’s contract up here is ending and the people we’re renting from want to sell the house in July, so one way or another, we need to move in June. We have applications in across the country (and a few overseas) but I honestly have no idea where I’ll be at the end of 2017.

When are you going to write that one book? From Even Villains 4 to questions about Prime Sensations (will Kaleb’s brother get his own story?) there have been a lot of questions about adding to existing series. EV4 is on the schedule for writing after the move, but a lot of what get published in the fall and early 2018 depends on things in the background that I’m not supposed to talk about yet. The sooner a book sale announcement is made, the sooner I have to go edit that hush-hush novel. Take that as you will.

The other major factor here is that, this fall, my youngest starts kindergarten (you have no idea how weepy and old I feel saying that). I won’t just be in a new city, but I’ll have a whole new schedule to work with, one that allows me to have interruption-free writing time (theoretically… we all know how Murphy’s Law works in these situations). I’m keeping my fall schedule open to possibility. We’ll see what happens, where I am, and what deadline have magically appeared before I make any promises.

A Look Back At 2016

January 1, 2017, marked my two-year anniversary in Alaska. I spent 2016 learning to drive on ice (and not die), dodging moose (without dying), and chasing whales (while avoiding death). There was a bit of a theme in 2016.

I only had one book published in 2016, DECOHERENCE, but there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Let’s look at the writing stats.

Total Words Written In 2016: 364,000
Total Words Edited In 2016: 1,266,000
Best Writing Month: April
Best Editing Month: September
Worst Writing Month: July
Worst Editing Month: October
Projects Finished: 1 (Decoherence)
Projects That Will Be Finished Q1 2017 – 2 (Free Fall, Bodies in Motion)

Conclusion: I survived the winter slump that crushed me in 2015, yay! But October is consistently bad for me. There’s always a crush of business things to do, and a lot going on with school and family. But, my word count is improving and if I wasn’t writing daily, I was writing consistently. Honestly, even though it wasn’t my most productive publishing year, I think it went well. My writing improved a lot over the year. I finally figured out how to write a High Concept Pitch. And I think I’ve set myself up for a very successful 2017!

So… how was 2016 for you? Did you survive, or are you only reading this post because your crypt has wifi?