July 22, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to Shauna Granger and Time of Ruin!

Okay, everyone...what's my favorite part of writing? In unison now....It's the people! I love the other writers I've met along the way, many of whom I'm now lucky enough to call friends. 

Shauna Granger is among the best. She's super-spunky, sweet, supportive, and she's a great writer, too. She's also one of my critique partners (CPs in the biz) which mean we'll read early drafts of each other's work to provide feedback.

I've had the pleasure of being involved with her new series, Ash & Ruin, since the beginning. These are post-apocalyptic YA books that follow a young girl as she tries to navigate a world plagued by a smallpox-like disease...and a bunch of chilling monsters. Think dementors from Harry Potter meeting the Angel of Death from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and you'll pretty much have the Pestas of Ash & Ruin down.

These books are fun. They're creepy. They're engrossing. I can't think of the West Coast anymore without remembering some of her thoroughly heartbreaking descriptions of LA falling, and Washington State being completely obliterated. 

Trust me. If you're into YA post-apocalyptic books, you've gotta check this series out.

Today marks the release date for Time of Ruin, the second book in the planned trilogy, and to celebrate along with Shauna, here's an excerpt from the novel! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!




Sitting on the bumper again, my jagged nails scratch at the plastic as I fight the urge to tell Dylan to hurry. Blue looks up at me and whines. I shake my head at him and pet him with the toe of my boot. His eyes are dark blue in the evening light. Blue drops his head and looks at Dylan, his ears perked up into two triangles. I follow his gaze. Dylan’s still standing, holding his instruments of destruction, and staring at the raging fire.

Blue pushes to his feet and barks one sharp, loud yelp. My hand drifts over to the rifle by my leg as I let my eyes slide from Dylan’s back to search for the source of Blue’s panic.

“Dylan.” I mean to call to him, but my voice comes out in a strangled whisper.

I swallow as I stand and pull the rifle with me. Across the street, the shadows between the houses are taking shape. They’re no longer the snapping, twisting formless shadows from the fire, but something more, something substantial. Dylan lifts the can of fluid and squirts more onto the fire, making it spike and lick the air.

“Dylan,” I try again, my voice a little louder. The rifle is in my hands now. The stock is pressed into my shoulder as I aim at the shadows peeling away from the deeper black.

Still Dylan doesn’t hear me, or is ignoring me.

Blue barks repeatedly, backing up until he hits the car. I find my voice and scream his name loud enough that it hurts my throat. Finally he looks at me, his face cast in shadows with the light behind him. I can’t make out his features, but I can make out the horde of Pestas behind him.

“Run!” I aim the gun as I walk backward around the car.

Instead of listening to me, he looks back to see what has terrified me so. They shuffle forward, lines of them spilling out into the cul-de-sac. Dylan takes two steps backward, nearly tripping over his feet and making me scream again. I rip the rear door open for Blue to get in the car. Slamming the door behind Blue, I lift the rifle and fire a shot, aiming well away from Dylan. The Pestas cringe in unison, as though they are all puppets controlled by the same set of strings.

“Run, dammit!” I scream.

****

Fab, right?

If you'd like more info, or want to buy the books, go on and use these links below!

July 16, 2014

JO, a new horror novel, coming to you on September 1st!

Hiya! Isn't it funny that I write horror and sci-fi, even though I'm usually sweet-as-pie and spend more time talking about my family than I do about blood and guts and gore? 

Well, regardless of all that, I'm at it again, and I've chosen the dates to bring my new novel, JO, into the world, and to online bookstores near you! 

So! September 1st!!! That's the date! It's also Labor Day, so everyone will be out of work/school and you can wake up and START READING! 

I'll do a cover reveal here on the blog and elsewhere throughout the internet on August 1st, and let me tell you: I can't wait for you to see it! It's GORGEOUS, in a bloody/gutsy/gory kind of way. 

So those are the dates! Mark your calendars! And in case you've forgotten what JO's all about...here's the first page.


Part 1: Preservation

I’m dead.
Sort of.
I thought you should know that right away, because this story won’t end well for me. I don’t have much longer. The battery that’s powering my brain is shutting down.
I’m sitting in my dorm room in the middle of the night. My mother’s asleep on the bed, and she’s snoring. It’s not a loud snore, not by any means, but it’s soft and it’s nasal and it’s there. I hear it. It transports me back in time, back to the days before things went sour and I had all the time in the world. Back then, sometimes, when I was very small, my mother and I had sleepovers in my bedroom, pretending we were girlfriends. We’d paint our nails and eat ice cream and giggle for hours.
Then my mother would fall asleep on the bottom bunk, and she’d snore like she’s snoring right now. So soft, so gentle. I’d lay in the top bunk and listen to her for hours. I loved feeling so close, so intimate, like I was the only one in the world who got to be with her like that. I felt so safe, those nights in my room so far away from here.
Right now, I wish I felt safe. I wish I could fall asleep to the sound of my mother’s snores, like when I was a little girl. I’m so tired. But I won’t let myself sleep yet. Because if I do, I won’t wake up, and I haven’t told you my story. I want you to hear it. I need you to hear it. Are you ready?
First, and most important, I’m not almost-dead by choice. I didn’t choose to be this way. I didn’t choose to become a monster.

That choice was made for me.

July 14, 2014

Guest Post: Armand Rosamilia

Good morning, all!! Happy Monday (again)!

Today I'm excited to have my new friend, Armand Rosamilia, stop by the blog with some information on why book reviews matter. I have to say, this post was eye-opening to me (and holy COW on your book sales, Armand!!! Congrats, man!), and I think it will be for you. We should ALL be taking the time (especially us writers) to review the books we love. It really helps the authors out!

So, thanks for coming by, Armand, with interesting data disguised as a funny guest post! And everyone else, check out his Dying Days series, and by God, review books!!!



Why You Need To Review My Dying Days Series

Armand Rosamilia


Because I said so, that's why! Do you really need another reason? You do?

I did a little adding (sure, I used a calculator, but it still counts)…

Between February and May 2014 (4 months of data) I sold a lot of books. A really nice run of sales for me, and I am going to brag. Too bad. I remember the report that came out last year saying most indie authors wouldn't make more than $500 for the year. I'm lucky enough to be able to stomp on that number (relatively speaking… I don't have a lot of overhead. No credit cards, no car payment, low insurance, I don’t drink or smoke or do drugs… I do spend money on M&M's, though). 

I'm going to tell you about just three releases in my Dying Days series for the four month period, because they pretty much paid all my bills and then some: Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer, Dying Days and Dying Days: Siege 1 And 2 Set. All three releases were 99 cents for the duration of the four months. Just those three releases (and only counting Amazon, which is the bulk of the sales) garnered 4,158 sales in the four month period. I sold a crapload of other books, too… 

But leading up to last week, out of the 4,158 sales of these three books I've received fourteen reviews. Good and bad, it doesn't matter. Roughly 1 out of 297 sales resulted in a review. If I wasn't so lazy right now I'd give you the miniscule percentage this is. 

And it isn't just me. I see so many authors who have great books out and readers praising them, but they don't give literally five minutes of their time to post a review. 

I can't complain about money coming in. I also write Hollywood adaptations and books to be made into movies, and it is quite lucrative. The sales aren't my issue. But I want to reach more readers, and the biggest way to do it is word of mouth… and Amazon reviews. 

A book's rank is set not only by steady sales but by the reviews of the book as well. If I sell x number of books and another author does the same, but he has 10 reviews and I have 0, his ranking will be higher. The Amazon algorithm is complicated and crazy and ever-changing, but one thing hasn't changed: reviews help. Reviews are the bread and butter of an author's career. They can make or break someone, and I'm not being dramatic (OK, a little dramatic). 

I'm in this for the long haul. I don’t want to have to go back out into the real world and get another soul-crushing retail management job. I fought my entire life to get to the point where I could live the dream of being a full-time author. I've arrived, I love it on this side, and I don't ever want to go back…

Many sites that run advertising for books have a minimum of ten reviews and a 4.0 or better rating average before they will run your book. Most of my books fall well short of letting me run any advertising, even though most have been out long enough. 

So help me out, please and thank you. If you were one of the 4,158 readers who bought one of these three books or if you purchased any of my books, I thank you. I salute you. You are letting me live out this fantasy life. 

But I have one favor to ask… please take five minutes of your time and leave a review. It doesn't have to be three pages long. It just has to hit the key points: I loved/hated this book because… why would other readers read this or not… and what were the high- and low-points (without spoilers). Something along those lines. 

Amazon loves to send me an e-mail every time I finish a book on my Kindle, and I've begun reviewing them right away so it's fresh in my mind. I've also begun going back through and reviewing them, because it's the right thing to do and takes five minutes of my time. As a reader I want to help the authors I like to succeed. I'm greedy that way, because I want them to do well and write more books. 

I'm going to thank you in advance for your time… and your review. 



For more info on Armand Rosamilia and his Dying Days series, visit his web site or his author page on Amazon.

June 30, 2014

Meet Emmie Mears, Author of The Masked Songbird (Out July 1)

Good morning, world! Happy Monday!

Today I'm SO excited to host my friend, Emmie Mears, as she continues her blog tour in support of her new novel, The Masked Songbird. It's out tomorrow, and from what I hear/read/see....you're really going to want to keep an eye on Emmie. Not only is she super-sweet, but her fiction is fun and sassy and cool. 

She dropped by my blog space to answer a few interview questions and tell us a bit more about her book. I know she'd love to hear what you think, so feel free to drop her a line or a comment and let her know!

Without further ado...Meet Emmie Mears!!



LR: When you write a book, are you an outliner, or a seat-of-your-pantser? Why do you think it works for you?

EM: I used to be a die hard pantser. I told myself that I just did what my characters said and that was that, which I used to absolve myself of any responsibility for their propensity to sit around drinking tea. It wasn’t until I read Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering and a few books by Don Maass that I had the epiphany that I was God in my universes and that the issues I was having with structure could be fixed because I could smack my characters upside the head and tell them to leave their tea fetishes off-screen.

Now I tend to draw up a blueprint and go from there -- the wall color might change, and the furnishings might end up more chic and less rustic, but I stick to the overall plan these days.

LR: When you were a kid, were there any fictional characters on whom you had a crush? (Confession: Mine was and still is Calvin O'Keefe from A Wrinkle in Time.) Who was it?

EM: Oh man, Calvin! I totally had a crush on him. I also had a huge crush on Ash from L.J. Smith’s Nightworld series as well as Gabriel from her Dark Visions trilogy. Actually, also Adam Conant from the Secret Circle. L.J. Smith provided me with a LOT of crush material.

LR: Favorite movie(s)?

EM: I have way too many to count, but for the sake of brevity, The Princess Bride. I come back to it every year. Pretty much anything with Cary Elwes in it is my happy place. Though admittedly I’ve never seen Saw.

LR: Favorite album/band to which to write?

EM: It completely depends on my mood. Usually something low key or instrumental, even if it’s rock-y.

LR: Favorite book(s)?

EM: O_O I have to pick?

*panics*

I love Harry Potter and Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. I also am a huge Wheel of Time fan. The Giver has stuck with me over the years, and Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet is still one of my all time favorites.



Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs.

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

Gwen’s hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends—even her country.

You can preorder THE MASKED SONGBIRD here (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JD7TWZK)! Released in a box set, you get four great paranormal and urban fantasy books for less than $4! 

Follow Emmie on Twitter @EmmieMears and join her on Facebook!

June 26, 2014

Summer school, Rhyne-style

Remember, a while back, when Zoe told me she didn't want to learn to read and it almost broke my heart?

In the many months since then, Zoe's not only learned to read...but she's become a reader. A real reader. We go to the library and take home stacks of books. Her closet is full of books, but most of them wind up under her bed while she's reading them, and re-reading them. She does what I did when I was a kid, finishing a book and turning back to the first page to start it all over again. 

It's brilliant. So brilliant.

I absolutely adore sharing with Zoe the books I loved when I was a child. She's torn up some Judy Bloom books, and the Cam Jansen series remains one of her favorites. I'm forever buying/borrowing books I think she'll love, and hoping she does. I'm forever giving her suggestions. 

"Here, Zoe, try this book! You have to read it!"

Sometimes she loves it, sometimes not, but we already share a love of The Secret Garden, so what more can I ask?

What more indeed.

You see, Zoe thinks she knows everything. She's in THAT stage. You know the one - full of instructions and helpful tips. Full of random facts she makes up on the fly that she somehow convinces herself are true. It's hilarious and annoying, true, but sometimes I remember to stop and listen.

Like today. 

At the library, she was tickled to find a huge stash of Boxcar Children books. She's mentioned them a few times throughout the school year - I knew she read one of them during nap time, and I knew she loved it. 

Today she asked me to find the very first one from the library's stash: The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.



"You have to read it, Mommy," she said, giving me that look that lets me know she means business. 

The thing is, I hadn't ever heard of these books until she mentioned them. I somehow missed them,growing up. While The Happy Hollisters (shut up) were staples in my house, solving mysteries with freckles and smiles, The Boxcar Children were completely absent. 

I didn't think I was missing anything.

After the library and a morning spent working outside, we were both quiet this afternoon. She read one of her library books (one of the ABC Mysteries, I believe, which she LOVES if you're looking for children's book recommendations), and my book was all the way upstairs. Yes. I was being lazy. 

But I picked up The Boxcar Children.

I read it in one and a half sittings (the half was only because Charles came home and I had to get up and say hi). 

It was written in 1942 and follows four orphan children as they try to survive by living in the a boxcar they find in the woods. 

It's sticky-sweet. Saccharine. With formal dialogue out of the mouths of children, it probably wouldn't be published today. But still. Something about it...

I loved it. I'm not going to lie. The idea of surviving on my own, of adventure, has always appealed to me (I once thought about applying for Survivor, at least until I remembered how afraid I am of spiders), and this was a great outlet for little adventure-seeking me. I love the idea of kids taking care of each other, of working hard to make a home. 

It was really lovely and I'm glad I read it. 

Today I learned I should listen to Zoe when she tells me things. Today I found a sweet book we can share and discuss from now until...well, I guess until forever. Today I discovered a new way to stay connected with my child.

I, the teacher, learned from my student. Just another piece of the bits of our summer we devote to learning, and today, Zoe was the better teacher. 

Oh. And by the way. She's still reading. :D

June 24, 2014

Bookish News!

Well, it's taken some soul searching. It's taken some tentative steps. And now I'm excited to say I'll be releasing my book, JO, at the end of the summer. It'll be my first major step towards truly being an indie-writer, at least for a little while, and I can't wait to see what you all think of this story.

So. Why am I self-publishing?

For one, I'm still working toward publishing in the more traditional way (i.e. agent, big-five publisher, etc.), but I have this book. This story. I posted the first chapter of it here a couple weeks ago, and got some really great feedback (emails, comments, etc.) about it. This story is also the one book my husband and brother both LOVE...the one my brother returns to every so often. "Remember...you can't let JO sit in a drawer and die. You have to do something with it."

It's not exactly a horror novel. It's not exactly sci-fi. It's a blend, a mix, and as such, I'm having a hard time finding a place for it within the traditional publishing model. Agents and publishers want something they know exactly where to put on a bookstore's shelves. This...is a little different.

But I think it's a fun story. An exciting story. There's blood and guts. There's love and lust. There's danger and adrenaline and fire and all kinds of other craziness.

Here's what it's all about:

Jolene Hall is dead – sort of. She can walk, think, and even talk, but her heart doesn’t beat and her lungs stopped breathing ages ago. Her body’s a mosaic of jagged wounds and stapled flesh.
Jolene Hall has a choice: turn herself in to the authorities, led by a suspiciously handsome police officer, or team up with her roommate Lucy and her boyfriend Eli to find a way to save herself. To Jo, the choice is clear. She’d like to know who turned her into a monster-girl, and she’d like to live to see another sunrise. 
But that choice has drastic repercussions. 
On a trip deep into the snowy White Mountains, to a hidden laboratory filled with danger and cadavers, Jo and Lucy find more monster-girls. Different monster-girls. Part body, part machine, run by batteries and electricity, these girls are killers, created by a shadowy Order with a penchant for chaos…and murder. 
To make matters worse, a photo on a wall of victims reveals Lucy is next in line to be “recruited” into this army of beautiful, walking corpses. 
When Jo’s physical condition takes a turn for the irreparable, and the Order kidnaps those she loves most, she must sacrifice herself to save them all.

I really think you're going to enjoy it.

So what's next, right? Well, I want this to be a successful release. I want lots of people to hear about this book. So I'm going to try to take all the steps successful indie authors take to spread the word about their books. I'll pick a release date, and publish it here. I'll pick a cover reveal date (I already have the cover - trust me, it's amazing!!), and publish it here. I'm going to try to make this HAPPEN in a big way.

And I could use your help!

If you're a blogger and you're seeing this, and would like to participate in any sort of blog tour/cover reveal, email me. If you'd like an advance copy of the book to read/review on your site, email me. And if you're a friend or family member and you'd like to help, do what you've done all along (please and thank you!!)! Share posts, share links, read it, review it on Goodreads. I'm SUPER excited about this book, and can't wait for you all to see it!

****

In other news!!! Undead America 3: Revolution has been submitted to my publisher! Hopefully she loves it and wants to publish it this fall - as soon as I know for sure, I'll let you know! There's a LOT in store for Jenna, Sam, and Will in book 3....and my early readers love how it all comes together in the end.

Or does it all fall apart in the end?

You'll just have to read it to find out!

EEEEE!! I can't wait to share these stories with you!!!