Sunday, September 29, 2013

Geeky Monday Moment--With an Announcement

Disclaimer: I'm geeky. The title of my blog says it, but I felt I should give you fair warning. Embrace the geeky side.

Okay, so after that disclaimer comes an explanation of our Geeky Monday Moment for you. It comes attached to a bit of an announcement: I will be self-publishing Inito!

Story time!

I remember walking into Barnes and Noble one day over a year ago and seeing an author with a table full of books ready to sign. At the time, I had just received my acceptance letter from Malachite Quills, and was full of excitement and a little nervousness about the process ahead.

So when she told me that although she was published with a small-press publisher, she wanted to self-publish her subsequent books, I was pretty sure she had hopped on the crazy train. WHY, I wondered, would anyone go through all the trouble and get lucky enough to land an interested publisher, only to give it up and go solo?

Well older Alyssa is a little bit wiser, so now I kind of get it. There are a lot of reasons, and I'd love to do a separate post about it later on, but suffice it to say its about control and cost benefit. I find myself now wondering: If I take a risk on myself and put something into my own work on my lonesome, will I get more out of it?

And that is the question to be answered! So I'll be blogging about not only why I decided to give the self-publish route a try, but what happens along the way! Because I have no idea how it's going to go!

In that vein, although it seems impossible, I give you this week's Geeky Monday Moment, brought to you by...

The Doctor

First of all, I like his face. Secondly, it's Doctor Who. You can't go wrong with a geeky Dr. Who moment. 
If you want to see some more of my geekiness, I have a Pinterest board called Geekin' Out.

Friday, September 27, 2013

What Happens After the Publisher Acceptance Letter

Hey there everyone!

I felt the need to spice up my blog so I added the spiciest ingredient of all: My face. I figured for this topic a vlog would be the easiest way to describe the experience. And the topic of my first ever blog video is what happens after one receives that acceptance letter from a publisher. I love talking about the process of becoming published, but I couldn't find much on what happens after! I was kind of a nervous wreck imagining what the process would be like when I got mine.

So I thought if I told my tale, it might enlighten you when you receive yours!

A few thoughts based on preliminary feedback of the video:

1.) I was told that I should elaborate on each of these steps (i.e. the fact that the publisher gave me an editor and what that was like, or how exactly I communicated with the illustrator), so I will happily add to that in future vlogs! To clarify, the publisher paid for all the editing and for the illustrator, so I didn't have to invest a single penny!

2.) I will also elaborate on author rights in the contract, since there's a few more things than I mentioned in the vlog that are worth noting.

3.) I plan to do other vlogs on the process leading up to getting published, too.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's Not Okay

I noticed something as I have been reading some newer YA Fantasies. There's this word we all use, and more and more I have noticed it creeping into the language of fantasy lads and lasses: Okay.
For example (hypothetical and not taken from anyone else):

Flora dodged the flames of the behemoth dragon, landing hard on her stomach in the cold, wet earth.
Tristan rushed to her side. "Are you okay?"
"I think so," she replied, putting a hand to her head.

Now, this is a great word. I use it gratuitously myself, and the temptation to use it in my fantasy books is almost too overwhelming. But I am a firm believer that "okay" just does not have a place in those other worlds. On a personal note, it kind of irks me!

I know what you're thinking. It's my world! I can have them say what I want to.

And yes, okay, that's true. You could have them say, "Gee wilikers, Flora!" if you wanted to. But the reason we don't is because these worlds are often meant to resemble medieval time periods. And these phrases were coined quite recently. I realize there are many words that were made more recently than the medieval period--most of our vocabulary probably--but modern expressions like "okay" take you out of the world, if you ask me. And that goes for other modern cliches like "from the other side of the tracks" or "she was tired of taking a backseat."

Young adults are intelligent enough to understand prose without those modern expressions, and this is just my opinion, but I don't think we need them! We're writers. We're pretty dang creative, right?

So if you want to (because hey, this is just my personal thing, and most people probably don't care if the word is used or not!) here are a few substitutes for "okay" that I have found work just as well, while still keeping the world kind of organic:

What are your thoughts on okay? Yes, no? Leave me alone, Alyssa, and mind your own writing business? Do you have any other substitutes you would add?

**As a grammatical disclaimer, I realize that the validity of the word "alright" is sometimes contested, but the connotations of "alright" and "all right" really do seem to make a difference, at least to me. So use your best judgment on that one!**

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Blog Tour Schedule

Okay! So here are the blogs who will host me between September 23rd and October 7th. I've got a rafflecopter giveaway I'm setting up on the blog right now!

September 23rd: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading
September 24th: Book Excerpt @  Adrienne Woods
September 26th: Book Excerpt @ I’m an Eclectic Reader
September 28th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading
September 30th: Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog
October 1st: Book Excerpt @ Endazzled Reading
October 2nd: Book Review @ Rambling Voices In My Head
October 4th: Book Review @ Urban Fantasy Land
October 6th: Author Interview @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog
October 7th: Guest Post @ Brenda McCreight’s Blog

I hope to see you stop by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Christianity in Writing

My fellow author and mother wrote this on her blog, and I really appreciated it. As authors, I don't think we mention our faiths much unless we specifically write about it. But otherwise, at least for me, I try to keep a bland spiritual profile. I'm trying to attract readers, so I wouldn't want to turn anyone off or offend them.

But here's the truth: I'm Christian. Devotedly so, and I'm proud and happy about it. In this post, Eileen discusses the fact that she added a character who prays in her book. There's nothing about worshiping God, no preaching, and no pushing any ideals. But her character does pray in the book, and I'm really glad she didn't back down from the fact that that's who her character is. Because really, lots of girls pray, I think. We just don't always touch on it.

Read the post! It's a good one:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Blog Tour!

My book blog tour is scheduled for September 23rd- October 7th! I will be doing some interviews, showing excerpts of the book (to entice those of you haven't read it yet!), and of course, a giveaway.

I like giving stuff away. Gives me the warm fuzzies.

So if you stop by either my blog or one of the host blogs (I'll announce all that as soon as I know who they are!), make sure you enter to win either a free paperback copy of Lunula, or a fabulous watercolor of my main character Wynn, done by artist Amy Sanchez.

Isn't that painting gorgeous? I just love what she did to make my favorite character come to life!

Hopefully soon I can get a tour going for Inito...which will be here shortly! I almost feel bad selling copies of Lunula now because I realize what a cliff-hanger I ended it with. Not to worry! All will be revealed shortly!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fortune Teller Blog Hop--New Lunula Scene!

Hello there everyone! I am super excited to be a part of the Fortune Teller Blog Hop, where each of the author participants has written a special piece just for the event! In my case, I chose to write a short scene with a "fortune teller" that predates Lunula, but fortells elements from all three (yes three! Got that third one churning around in brainstrom phase) books in the Irador series. I figured that way I don't give away anything from the second book (coming shortly, I promise!), and I can give you an idea of what to expect from the third. If you can catch it.

Once again, here is the list of blog participants so you can visit them and see what they have done. This is a great way to get a feel for the author's writing style, and maybe find a new read in the process.

Kayla Curry (Host)
Alyssa Auch
S. M. Boyce
N.R. Wick
Steve Vernon
A. F. Stewart
Linda Taylor
Tami Von Zalez
Quanie Miller
Ellen Harger
Deborah Nam-Krane
Erin Cawood
Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba
Wendy Ely
Laure Reminick
Jen McConnel

Without further ado, here is the new Lunula scene:

In The Hands of Fate

It seemed impossible, but there it stood before me. A bent and twisted tree, grown completely horizontally so its branches and leaves hung like the fingers of an outstretched arm. And in the middle of town square, too, its base bursting from the thick gray stone like the granite had been nothing but a layer of parchment between the tree and its sideways grasp at life.
                Bent to the side as it was, it barely reached the waist of the small, brown-haired girl who stood behind it. Her golden eyes commanded my gaze, unflinching. “Do you wish to know?”
                I adjusted my pack on my sore shoulder, trying to ignore the fire in my feet and legs from three days of relentless travel on foot. Reaching my next assignment in Lord Rhys’ province had been fraught with disaster. And here I stood puzzling over a bizarre piece of fauna. “What, about the tree?” I asked.
                She shook her head, and from the pocket of her dirty gray smock, she pulled a handful of amber stones. “Your fate.”
                A sour taste filled my mouth. With hooded eyes, I mumbled. “I already know that one. Thanks, though.”
                Before I could move on, she stretched her hand out, pleading. “Your essence flows from your every breath.” Her eyes, the color of the stones in her dingy palm, widened further. “It calls to the blood of the earth beneath us.”
                I didn’t bother to disguise my derisive expression. “Really?”
                “Please,” she gestured to the trunk before her, and I noticed for the first time that a valley of some sort had grown into it. The dip, like a naturally formed bowl in the body of this strange plant, had also been marked with carved letters. “I can read it.”
                I was the only witch in one hundred years. Only one other possessed the magical gifts of the Fates, and he was hopefully many hundred leagues from this place. So I folded my arms, raising a brow patronizingly. “Are you the witch, then?”
                She gave me a knowing smile. “No. But the magic of the Fates, it runs through every living thing. In some things stronger than others.”
                I barely stopped myself from rolling my eyes. “So you will tell my future with your tree.”
                “Hold the stones,” she encouraged, offering them to me again.
                There were seven of them; the number of Fates. I let her deposit them onto my palm, and I curled my pale fingers around them. They felt cold against my warm skin, which was heated from the scalding, summer sun above. When the stones had seeped some of the warmth from my body, the girl gestured for me to drop them in the basin.
                When I did so, they clattered into the trunk, settling quickly. Despite my reservations, I leaned forward to peer at the result. They looked like rocks in a tree.
                The girl bent close to the stones, jutting her pink, lower lip out. “You have greatness on your shoulders.”
                I snorted.
                Ignoring my impudence, she continued. “You have weighted your stones, your fate, on love. It will be the greatest triumph of your kind,” her amber eyes lifted. “It will beget a glorious future.” When I said nothing, she continued, “And I see death. A most certain, but noble death.”
                “We all die,” I said, my voice suddenly hoarse.
                “But not in the warlock’s hands,” she replied, straightening.
                I stared at her for a few moments, and then flipped her a copper coin. “Very entertaining, thank you.”
                She caught the coin, but her eyes, those golden orbs like the unblinking, searching gaze of a night owl followed my retreat. “It is your children we will thank. They will usher forth a new and prosperous way of life.”
                With one last, perplexed scowl I left her standing with her tree in the courtyard. I did not want her words to affect me, but they pierced my mind with every step I took. In the warlock’s hands. My worst of fears had been preyed on by an urchin with a log. Shaking my head, I tried to set it from me. It was only an act. Just a trick.
                Besides, I thought with a smirk. No matter what she might have guessed of me, there would never be love in my fate. The smirk faded. Not ever.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My tour and other fun stuff

So coming up this week (starting Monday) I've got a lot going on author-wise!

First of all, I have a fortune teller blog hop with several fellow authors. All of us have written special pieces just for this blog hop, and all of them include fortune telling in one way or another. So good news! I have a short Lunula piece that predates the first book, but foretells a teensy bit of the third.

Oh yeah, you read that right. There will be a third installment of the Irador series. HUZZAH! 

Also on Monday, September 23rd, I have a blog tour beginning! It will go for 2 weeks, and I will updated often about who will be featuring me and my book and where. I'm also giving away some freebies.Everybody likes free stuff right? In this case its a fabulous watercolor by Amy Sanchez and a free paperback of my book, Lunula. 

So you know, keep an eye out for fun updates and all that jazz.

I will repost these on Monday, but here is the full list of participants in our fortune teller blog hop:
Kayla Curry (Host)
Alyssa Auch
S. M. Boyce
N.R. Wick
Steve Vernon
A. F. Stewart
Linda Taylor
Tami Von Zalez
Quanie Miller
Ellen Harger
Deborah Nam-Krane
Erin Cawood
Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba
Wendy Ely
Laure Reminick
Jen McConnel

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Guardian Dilemma

When a young adult goes on an adventure, what do we do with their parents? With my first novel, Lunula, I think I almost subconsciously got rid of her parents from the very beginning. I couldn't have anyone attached to her (for many reasons really), but one of the more pressing ones had to do with her freedom. I couldn't have her spying on nobles and sneaking around the kingdom with her mother reminding her to be safe and come home before eleven.

And I have noticed this trend quite a bit in YA literature. We orphan our characters simply because it's too complicated to add that mom and dad dynamic into the adventure mix. It's not cool. I think we've all noticed Disney's penchant for offing one or both parents of their characters. So many of us do it!

Some authors try to get around the parents in various ways. The child runs away, the parents become trapped, the parents are negligent or distracted (or downright mean), or, in one famous example, all the children are sent to a magical boarding school with minimal supervision.

So I wracked my brain and tried to come up with some novels where the parents were involved from the very beginning. I had to know: do we need to get rid of parents? Or can we keep them around? The first example that came to my mind was The Unspeller by Eileen Sharp. She notoriously keeps families a priority in her books--everything centers around the family dynamic in her plots, and I like that about her. Her main character does get sent away from parents for a bit, but he is with older siblings the whole time, and the parents are a presence all throughout. Did it detract? Oddly enough, no. It didn't.

Another YA book with involved parents that came to mind was actually Twilight. She still had curfews, and Stephenie didn't just kill off the parents out of convenience. In that case, it was logical, but I wouldn't say it added to the book.

If we're going the movie route, Disney decided to veer off the beaten (stamped and crushed to death) path with their movie "Brave." In that case, it was a mother-daughter adventure, and I remember thinking, "Well this is different!" Different it may have been, but its not my favorite Disney movie. It was fun and I enjoyed it, but there was something decidedly unromantic about adventuring with one's mother. 

But are there any YA books where the parents go with the teen on their adventure? Go to help them with their spells or their vampirism or werewolf problems? I can't really think of any. And why should there be? I'm of the opinion that orphaning our characters, in whatever way, is probably for the best. Because when it comes down to it, YA books are about growth. They are about discovering one's self, and what young people are capable of becoming. While my parents were instrumental in my development, there were things I had to learn on my own. Away from them.

 So how about it. If you are an author do you orphan your characters? If you are a reader, can you think of any books that might prove me wrong about teens adventuring best without parents? Lend me your thoughts!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Relaxed Review: Divergent

No one asked me to review it, but its been a while since a book left me with a "story hangover," and I had to share. So here's a somewhat relaxed review of this popular book, soon to be released as a major motion picture. I read a lot of books, and if I shared every one of them, I think my blog would be too overwhelmed with them. But this is worth sharing.

My rating: 10/10
Cleanliness Rating: 4/5 (violence mostly)

Holy wow. I didn't expect to like this one, my friends. I didn't want to like it, in fact. First of all, its a YA Dystopian, which has replaced my genre of Fantasy, I feel. So I spit in their general direction. Also, I get author envy when I see that a writer has hit the jackpot, and is rolling around in their book dough, laughing at my tiny puniness.

So I was determined to give it like 20 pages and put it away in disgust. But page 2 had me completely hooked ("What? What's a faction? Why can't you look in mirrors? Why are you wearing just gray????), and I was a Divergent sucker. My sister said the main character was "whiny," but I think what she meant was "empathetic and thoughtful," which to me made her a unique and wonderful character. Tris (or Beatrice I guess) was a perfect blend of "I'm going to totally kick your butt," and "but I feel a little guilty about it." I like that. I like it when the main character thinks about the people she has to roundhouse kick. Call me sentimental.

The love interest made me swoon. Even though he's 18, and I'm 24, and faintly I realized how weird that probably is. But he's a great character, and I like their relationship. I like that it had to form quietly and slowly--no sucking face because their hormones just took control of them for no random reason. Thank you, Lord, for characters with a little common sense.

The overarching plot with the political intrigue was pretty straightforward, and although there were little surprises, I wasn't blown away by huge plot twists. But the Dystopian world she created was intricate enough that I didn't feel the need for it.

So the only bad thing I can say is that I'm number 16 on the waiting list at my local library for the second book. I might cave and just buy the thing (gasp!), even if I'm still a little resentful that Miss Roth is actually making money on her work. I'm a selfish creature, I know.

So did you read it? Tell me what you thought!

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I recently took a day trip to Craters of the Moon, not to be confused with the moon, which would have been a truly impressive day trip. This location in Idaho, apparently created from a giant belch in the Earth's crust, is made up of pitted, porous black volcanic rock and ashy soil. And it really looks like the moon.

I found myself completely inspired by it (now determined that my Fantasy land Dristol looks much like the slate gray wasteland), and had to share some pictures. I'm sure they won't do it much justice, but its always good to share inspiration!

How cool is that? The copper peeks through the gray rock like the Earth's dry blood under charred scabs. It's impossible not to be inspired by rare beauty like that.

Have you been anywhere inspiring recently?