Thursday, July 10, 2014

How many books do you read?

I'm a writer. I pay attention to what's going on in my industry, how technology is changing how we read, and I find reading habit studies interesting. Last week I stumbled across an article in Slate (probably via the Publisher's Weekly daily email) about the death of e-readers.

Why did this catch my attention? Because Barnes and Noble is finally spinning Nook off into its own division, like they've been saying they're going to do for at least two years now. I own a Nook. In fact, I'm on my second one. Bought a Simple Touch on Black Friday when it was half off and I love it.

Anyway, back to the Slate article. It notes how sales of e-readers are starting to decline and makes reference to several tech writers who are starting to say the e-reader is in its death throes. Smart phones and tablets are changing how we do everything, including reading. But not necessarily to the benefit of readers or authors, or brain development and cognitive skills.

I have an e-reader for one reason: I don't like reading books on a computer screen. Or on my phone, or on a tablet screen. I work on computers all day, whether I'm writing, goofing off on Facebook, email, or doing actual work for my job. When I go to bed I don't want to be staring at yet another backlit screen. Not to mention backlit screen use after dark can wreak havoc with my brain's ability to shut down for sleep. And I'm not alone in this.

But what really caught my interest in the article was the reference to this survey from 2012. It found that readers who own e-readers read, on average, 24 books per year, while those who don't own an e-reader read on average 15 books per year. That got me wondering. How many books have I read so far this year? Since I have a Goodreads shelf called Read In 2014, it was easy to find out.

My total so far this year? 29. Don't believe me? If you have a Goodreads account go look.The shelf says 27, but that's because one of the books shelved is a boxed set of three books. And yes, I've been doing a lot of binge reading this year. It's my favorite way to read. I love series, and when I get hooked on one I have to read them ALL.

And I can say with certainty having a Nook has led me to buying more books. I bought 90% of the Dark-Hunter series in ebook last year when they were on sale for the release of Styxx. Styxx was #23. I've also discovered new authors from picking up freebies, like Elisabeth Naughton. 

How many books have YOU read this year?

Friday, June 20, 2014

SFR Brigade Blog Hop: A'yen and the Stars

Coming this fall to Nook, Kindle, Kobo,
iBookstore, and All Romance Ebooks
During last year's blog hop I shared about the alien planet I created, Lok'ma. This year's theme is Starry Nights, and it just so happens that some key events in A'yen's life happened beneath a starry night.

A'yen is a humanoid alien, and his people were enslaved so long ago they no longer believe they were ever free. He's lucky, though, compared to the other males of his race. His life was one of almost freedom, lived among the stars for twenty years with one human. A human he loved, and a human who died to keep him safe.

Losing access to the stars, the one place he was free, almost kills his spirit. When he gets back up there, with a new owner who doesn't understand him, his stars don't mean what they did before.

Starry nights continue to play an important role throughout My Name Is A'yen. He lets the heroine in beneath a starry sky as they wait for a nebula light show to start. Later he realizes his feelings for her go far deeper than he thought possible.

Yet through it all he keeps fighting. Keeps reaching for the freedom he knew living in the stars.

I've also spent time looking at a starry night. Last spring my sister and I and some of our friends rented a cabin at a state park during an astronomy society star-gazing night when the ISON comet was visible. We had so much fun! Our two amateur astronomers found all these super cool things for us to look at. Laying there watching the Milky Way slowly become visible was an experience I'll never forget. I'm lucky enough to live in a place that doesn't have a lot of light pollution, but it's still enough the true glory of the Milky Way is hidden. And yes, I did see the comet!

For the very first time EVER I'm giving something away on my blog. You have a chance to win an ARC of My Name Is A'yen, that will be delivered to the winner in August. Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. AND THEN KEEP SCROLLING FOR THE BRIGADE PRIZES!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
We have a HUGE prize pack this year. First place is a $100 Amazon or B&N gift card plus 42 books. Second prize is a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card, plus 22 books. Third place goes to three people with a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card to each, plus 12 books. Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Comments left saying "please enter me" will be ignored. The only way to win is to use the Rafflecopter form.

ONLY THE PRIZES LISTED ARE AVAILABLE! Nothing else can be sent. No cash, no converting books to gift cards. What's on the list is what you get.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now the list of participants. Make sure to visit as many as you can and see what all the Brigade is up to. Have fun hopping!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Coming Soon: My Name Is A'yen

My last post here shared some of the journey I've been on the last five years. This one's going to share some more, and there's a HUGE announcement involved.

I've been dabbling in writing all my life, creating characters, spending thousands of hours playing with them in my head. I created a huge family who lived in the Colorado Rockies, and shared them with a friend and my sister. The friend had characters, too, and my sister made some up. We spent hours playing with these characters whenever we were together, and we'd even write letters to each other as our various fictional friends. It was loads of fun.

For a couple years I wrote fan fiction with my sister and published it online at one of the main hubs for this fandom. Then I started writing fan fiction in another fandom and exploring the backstory of characters whose backgrounds were unknown. Eventually my interest in it petered out. But at the same time I got a new job as a tour guide at a plantation and there was downtime. I needed something to keep me occupied that wouldn't get me in trouble. So I turned to my O'Connor friends, the huge family, to keep me company. I have hundreds of pages of college ruled notebook paper filled front and back with pieces of their lives.

In 2007 I joined my first writers organization and began learning how to structure a novel and be a better writer. We were encouraged to pick one genre, so I settled on historical romance. A few years went by, the events of my last post happened, and I ended up abandoning it for science fiction romance.

I've been on the submission trail with A'yen for two years. He's been sent to four publishers and an agent. All have said no. I tried to go back to my more traditional-friendly series, Slipstream, and couldn't. Though it wasn't for lack of trying!

The HUGE announcement is I've decided it's time to start self-publishing A'yen's Legacy. It's time to send him out into the big wide world and hope readers love him as much as I do. I'm hoping to have the first one, My Name Is A'yen, out in September, with the second and third to follow in January and April of next year. I'm hard at work on number four, and number five is written already.

I'm also starting a newsletter list, since Facebook is being so stingy with how many people it shows Page posts to. If you want to stay up to date and make sure you never miss anything, like my Facebook page and sign up for the newsletter. I promise I won't be emailing all the time, and it's not likely to ever be more than once a month.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Five Years

Five years ago today I was getting ready for my wedding. I thought I was embarking on the greatest adventure of my life and I couldn't wait to get it started. Had I know then what would start in one short month I might not have walked down the aisle that night.

Eleven months later my happily ever after was dead. He wasn't a prince. He wasn't even a good man. He so thoroughly hoodwinked my entire family that my parents were having a hard time believing all the stuff I was telling them he had done. Even after I called the police on him and returned home, it took some time before it all sunk in that I hadn't been making it up, misreading things because of cultural differences, or imagining things to be worse than they were.

1400 miles are between us, so I never have to worry about running into him. I've severed all ties with him and his family.

Four years ago today I was curled up with my sister having a Lost In Space marathon and pointedly ignoring the ex and his parents who were trying to call me. What should have been my first wedding anniversary was instead my sister being her awesome self and giving me something else to think about.

My words were gone. I went from someone who wrote every day to someone who was dying to write but could not get a single word out. In any form. Fiction, journaling, shorts, random scenes. You name it, it was all locked inside me. NOTHING would come out, except a very angry letter to my ex in-laws that I never mailed.

Three years ago today my words had finally come back after spending a month with my grandmother helping her after she broke her femur. I would sit on her couch in the afternoons and play with my characters, tell her about the novel I was writing, and enjoy the all-encompassing peace that came with being around my beautiful grandmother. We buried her two days before I found out the divorce was final, but she knew it was coming. And more importantly she knew I was okay and once again embracing life.

In September 2011, at a writer's conference in St. Louis, I pitched my almost finished historical romance to two agents. Both of whom asked for the full, because "I've never seen this." Every submitting writer alive dreams of hearing "I've never seen this." One of my friends was right there when I came out of the first appointment and we hugged and jumped up and down. I was trying so hard not to cry right there in the hall. Not from sadness like the previous eighteen months, but from pure joy. It was rinse repeat the next day with my second appointment, more jumping up and down, more hugging, more celebrating, more sharing it with all my friends who had walked with me every step of my dark journey from dying inside to words pouring out of me once more.

Both agents ultimately said no, because they didn't think they could sell it, but both loved my voice and encouraged me to keep at it and come back with something easier to place. The rejection from one of them was so beautiful it didn't hurt at all. As I discovered two months later rejections from them was part of God's plan, because I didn't just change genres, I changed markets. From Christian to general.

Two years ago tonight I had a dream. I dreamed about a humanoid alien walking through a forest, saying one word over and over and over. It turned out to be his name. A'yen. His story was similar to the historical stuff I'd been immersed in, and let me play with themes I love, interracial relationships and the value of life. Except in A'yen's case it's interspecies. I wrote out a quick back cover type blurb while I ate breakfast on May 17th, 2012, did my work for the day, opened a new document and titled it My Name Is A'yen.

Eighty-six days later I had a completed 95,000 word novel in a genre I didn't know existed. Science fiction romance. My crit partner devoured it as fast as I churned it out, which was damn fast. She celebrated every milestone with me because she knew what all I had been through. She loves the story almost as much as I do.

One year ago today I found out I was still in the running at the Harper Voyager open call for their new digital first line. Ultimately they said no, but it was just what I needed to hear on just the right day.

What's my news today? I've written four novels in two years. FOUR NOVELS IN TWO YEARS. All over 95,000 words. I still can't quite believe what I've done. Still can't quite believe how dreams I'd never seriously entertained prior to the explosion of my marriage have become the driving force of my life and I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to do at this stage in my life. It's an amazing feeling.

May 16th is no longer the anniversary of a marriage that never stood a chance. It's no longer a reminder of the most painful time of my life. It's A'yen's anniversary. It's the dawning of the next chapter of my life. It's the day marking the beginning of exploring who I am as a writer and discovering a genre that gives me the freedom to write romance exactly how I want to write it.

I'm hoping the next five years are even better.

Friday, May 2, 2014

SFR Brigade Presents: Hidden In Ashes, part 1


The last time I participated I was sharing stuff from my Slipstream Network series. Which I'm not actively writing on at the moment, even though I should be. Why am I not writing on it? Because I'm too caught up in the second arc of A'yen's Legacy. You all are the second set of eyes to ever see the opening paragraphs of Hidden In Ashes.

 Lorin sank into the hot water of his private mineral pond. Every inch of his body ached from exhaustion, despite the last twenty-four hours spent sound asleep. Mistress didn’t believe in allowing him to actually rest during his two week sabbatical every year. No, he had to keep her pleased and sated while ignoring his own needs.
He went to the side, folded his arms on the ledge, and rested his head on the pillow with his eyes closed. Air jets kept the water moving. Soft splashing at the steps told him Cynda was coming in to rub his back. Three seconds and her hands began working with slow, gentle strokes. He sighed in pleasure.
Too bad no magic hands existed to ease the soreness in his tongue.
“I don’t understand why she won’t let me come with you.”
“Because she knows you’ll make her leave me alone and she can’t have that.”
“You’re a daro, Lorin. Not a common whore.”
Except when he spent time with Mistress he felt like a common whore. Even when he was flawless, in his opinion, she found something to criticize. “Maybe she’ll drop dead. I don’t think any of the girls would care about claiming me.” He groaned as she pressed into one of the knots in his shoulders to ease it.

This one opens on the planet of Marcase, home of the people responsible for enslaving A'yen's race 2,000 years ago. It's about Lorin, a Lokmane, and Sunny, the Marcasian high noble who reluctantly owns him. And of course it's about how they fall in love and make their way through the mountain of obstacles standing in the way of their happily ever after.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zoe

I've saved the best for last, and it's a picture heavy post. I'm a cat mom, and my baby is a half-crazed calico named Zoe. She'll be eight next month and keeps me very entertained. As I'm writing this on Tuesday afternoon she's in the front flowerbed drinking out of the bird bath.

She's adorable, but not very bright. Poor thing can get stuck in a tree faster than you can say bob's your uncle. She misses me when I leave, sometimes wants to go to work with me, and one of her favorite places to sleep is snuggled up with me.

When I got her when she was about six weeks old she could sit in the palm of my hand. Now she weights 12 pounds...

She was not impressed with all the snow we had this year. Almost six inches!

Guarding us from the Weeping Angel afghan. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.
Conked out on Mommy's legs.
 Never know where something interesting might be hiding.
 I found her in the bathroom one day making love to a washrag...
When she was younger one of her favorite places to play was in the tub. After it had been used and was still damp. She grew out of it.
 Playing with Aisling the Beast Cat. Aisling is half Zoe's size and definitely the alpha.
 The first week I had her! Such a cute little thing. She'd crawl up my covers and play with my toes at night between the sheet and my quilt.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Your Love, Oh Lord

I've been a Third Day fan for over a decade now. At a particularly horrible time in my life four years ago this song, sung in a church on a Sunday morning, was a lifeline. A God-hug, if you will. I held on to it for dear life for weeks.

And now I share it with anyone who stops here. Need a God-hug? Watch the video.

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