Thursday, May 25, 2017
A huge thanks to Debra Presley and everyone from Book Enthusiasts and Buoni Amici Press who had a part in putting this event together, as well as all the book bloggers who so graciously participated in this event and made my cover look absolutely amazing! Click on any of the links below to visit these blogs and view the cover reveal for yourself! There's also an EXTENDED excerpt from Fathoms Above, and a giveaway for 5 free e-book copies of Fathoms Above and 5 signed Fathoms Below-themed bookmarks!
Monday, March 20, 2017
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Last week, I shared with yall a few sneak peeks at some of the book research that went into writing Fathoms Above. This week, I'm going to share some tidbits from my online research, particularly a little more about the myth retellings you'll get to read in Fathoms Above. If you read my last blog, you already know that two of these are Echo and Narcissus and Medusa. Another is Pygmalion. This story of the sculptor who fell in love with one of his own statues has always been one of my favorite Greek myths because of the poignant tragedy of their relationship. Or non-existent relationship rather, since a one-sided relationship isn't really a relationship at all, no matter how hard the more interested party tries to make it one. In the Star Crossed series, I took this myth a little bit further and made Pygmalion one of Pyramus's descendants. Though lucky enough not to fall in love with a descendant of Thisbe like Lee in Fathoms Below, Pygmalion was still unlucky in love because he fell in love with a woman who could never love him back...at least, not without divine intervention, and in Fathoms Above, as Hermes tells Cather to help take her mind off of their doomed relationship, that's exactly what Pygmalion seeks. Here's a little snippet from this retelling to wet your appetite, along with the link to the original version of this myth.
Now, some of you are probably wondering: I have mentioned before that the Star Crossed series is a retelling of the fairy tale Cinderella. However, Cather doesn't exactly have a habit of losing a shoe when it's least convenient. So who is Cinderella then? Well, in Fathoms Above, you get your first glimpse at that answer, and the first look at my version of this classic tale. To write it, I took the original version of Cinderella, titled Rhodopis, by the historian Strabo (you can read it for yourself by clicking on the link under this paragraph), and combined it with some of my favorite versions of Cinderella from around the globe, including the most popular one by Charles Perrault illustrated by the Pinterest collage below. Will the slipper be glass? That I can't tell you. Will there be a prince, a fairy godmother, or a pumpkin carriage? Perhaps, though not in the traditional sense. What I can tell you, though, is that this Cinderella, or Sinderella, as she is so nicknamed in the series by Hermes, is an unconventional heroine who, like Cather, will dare to stand up against the deities of Olympus and do everything in her power to break another of their divine curses.
Want more research tidbits? No problem. As promised in last week's blog, here is a closer look at some of the main characters in the Star Crossed series, starting with the heroine, Cather Stevens.
For those of you have read Fathoms Below (and for those of you who haven't yet), you know that Cather is an average girl-next-door-type from the South who likes chocolate, cheerleading, history, and murder mysteries. She is logical, stubborn, and a little bit sassy, which at first made her a very difficult character to write, as I am driven more by my emotions than anything else. She doesn't have time for things like love and fantasy until her eighteenth birthday, when she discovers that things are not always as they seem and that she is not quite as ordinary as she always believed. This Pinterest collage is one of my favorites that I saved to my Star Crossed Book Research board, and at the time I wasn't even looking for it. Though at times I wanted to strangle her for her decisions (you will see why when you read Fathoms Above), I had a very clear picture in my head of exactly who Cather was and what she looked like from the start of my writing. So when I stumbled upon this collage while researching deities, I was ecstatic, because it encompasses her perfectly! Except for the green eye color, that's wrong lol. Still, it illustrates the rich brown color of her hair, her tanned skin, her Greek and southern heritage, her family's tragic history, even her love of sweets and simple girly things like makeup!
Thursday, February 23, 2017
To me, writing a book is a labor of love, one that requires time, effort, sweat, blood (think broken nails on a keyboard), tears, and sacrifice, like the kind found in the story of Medusa. I read two different volumes and searched online archives extensively for everything that I could find about the snake-haired Gorgon whose gaze turned anyone who looked upon it to stone. All of them seemed to share the same two origins, which I remembered from my days devouring Greek mythology in high school. One, that Medusa was one of three Gorgon sisters, daughters of the sea deities Phorcys and Ceto who were born monsters. And two, that Medusa was a beautiful maiden who was turned into a monster by the goddess Athena, either because she angered her or because Athena took pity on her. Both make sense. Yet I have always had a burning question in the back of my mind when it comes to this particular myth. Specifically, why does Medusa's gaze turn people to stone? Of all the powers she could have had, why did it have to be that one? Was it genetic? Accidental? A weapon to protect her against men who might harm her for her beauty? Or was it punishment for something? So I took that question and allowed it to fuel my own version of how Medusa came to be, exactly what she did that made Athena so angry that she would curse her (because let's face it, it would take something more than someone simply defiling my temple to make me curse them, and weapon or not, turning all who look at you to stone is a curse sooner or later), and what happened between her and Athena after that.
If you can't tell already, I think research is one of the best parts of writing a book, along with the actual writing part and getting to see your finished product once its published. Not only is it an excuse to read new books and reread old favorites, but it's also an adventure in itself, one where pages are my roads and my imagination is my compass. Research allows me to take well-known, and not so well-known, tales like that of Cerberus, the three-headed Guardian of the Underworld, piece them together with histories, dreams, and my own experiences and weave them together into a single story. In this case, a story about a dog named Fear who was given to the descendants of Pyramus by Hades, god of the Underworld, as protection against Zeus and the other deities of Mount Olympus.
I also like research because it helps me learn more about my characters' backgrounds, especially the deities. Each Greek myth I read and rewrite to fit my story line helps me turn untouchable Olympic gods and goddesses into seemingly-real flesh and blood individuals just like you and me. They have likes and dislikes, habits, and pasts, sometimes good, sometimes bad, that drive their emotions in the present. Hermes, who for centuries spent his time upholding Zeus's star crossed curse until he met Cather, is one such character, driven by the love he feels for the mortal girl and the guilt he feels for all the lives he took at the hand of the curse. In Fathoms Above, we see a little more of this love and guilt mix as Hermes remembers the tale of Echo, another of Cather's tragic ancestors, and her love Narcissus, and hopes that his and Cather's story doesn't end up like theirs.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Sunday, February 5, 2017
I sent out a brand new query for Fathoms Below (bites fingernails) and finished updating my Book Art board on Pinterest and added two more: Book Research and Character Inspiration. I love seeing what other authors used to create their books and how they view their characters, and I hope yall enjoy this look at mine as well. :)
I also created the first half in a two-part series of pictures on Instagram for a bookshelf tour through my house. This was a really fun little side project, inspired by all the fabulous photos posted by other bookstagram accounts like @jessbooklover and @lisa_lostinlit. One of my favorite things to do is share what I'm reading with other book-lovers, and talk with them about their favorite characters and reads, and this was a great way to do that! Plus, it gave me a reason to reorganize all my bookshelves, which needed it badly lol. Now when I go look for a book on one of them, I don't have to move other books out of the way!
I participated in Write On Con on Saturday, February 3, which was a totally awesome experience! There were so many fantastic articles and videos by acclaimed authors, editors, and illustrators that it was super hard to pick my favorites. I even got to participate in a Live Q&A with Literary Agent Emily S. Keyes from Fuse Literary. See the links to all my highlights from this online convention at my Twitter account below.
The best and biggest news I have, though, is that there is officially ANOTHER book signing for Fathoms Below in the works! This one will be held sometime in April at the M. E. Roden Memorial Library in Hawkinsville, GA, which I'm super excited about because it's my hometown library where I grew up learning to read and nourishing my love of reading. More updates on this, and the book signing at Hawkinsville High School, to come this week, along with more sneak peaks at the research that went into Fathoms Above - follow me on Instagram and Twitter to stay in the loop -, a special surprise promotion for Fathoms Below that will be happening around Valentine's Day, ARC giveaways of Fathoms Above, and maybe even a book trailer for Fathoms Above! Who knows? I'm feeling inspired. Until then, happy reading everyone!
Sunday, January 29, 2017
On the bright side, all the nasty weather meant that I had plenty of time to read the new book in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Binds! This book was excellent, full of the monsters, magic, and epic battle scenes I've come to expect from Ilona Andrews dystopian Atlanta world and ended with Kate and Curran's highly anticipated wedding. If you haven't read it yet, I definitely recommend picking it up the next time you're at the book store or library! You won't be sorry :)
I also had lots of downtime to spend with my daughter, a.k.a. the princess of my life, which was just what I needed after all the rush-rush-rush of work. We played dolls, had a tea party, and read (and re-read some of her favorite books before sitting down to an easy but delicious dinner of organic soup, sandwiches, and chips. For an extra special treat, we started watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix! I read these books years ago and loved them, and while I enjoyed the movie starring Jim Carey, I have to say that so far this series is better! With more time to stretch between episodes, they were able to get more of the books on the screen, which is always an important factor to me when I watch a book I read come to life, and the casting is perfect! Neil Patrick Harris is Count Olaf to a tee, and the Boudelaire children look exactly like I pictured them in the books! Even the supporting cast, like Justice Strauss (can I PLEASE have her library?!), Mr. Po, Jacquelyn, and Gustav are excellent, and Patrick Warburton narrating the show as Limony Snickett just like said author did in the books is the cherry on top. My daughter is enjoying them immensely (she has already devised a way to foil Count Olaf's evil plans), and so am I, although now I can't wait to read this series with her as well after we finish Harry Potter. :)
In bookish news, I held my first reader-feedback Q & A on Twitter! The questions I asked were in regards to love triangles, i.e. I chose my favorite love triangles as well as some other popular ones and asked readers who they would choose out of each one if they were the main character, since the second book in the Star Crossed series, Fathoms Above, which comes out this year, contains a love triangle between Cather Stevens, Hermes, the Book Keeper and Messenger of the gods, and a mortal named Peter Gannis. And the responses I got back were fantastic! Thanks so much to everyone who participated! It was really nice to hear other people's opinions on these love triangles, and I hope that you all check out Fathoms Above when it comes out. :) If you missed this live Q & A, you can read it here on my Twitter feed. But that's not all. I also got a response to my Q & A from one of my favorite authors, Priya Ardis, who wrote the My Merlin series. (These books, which center around the King Arthur myth that says one day Arthur will rise again and bring Avalon to the Earth, were an excellent fantasy series, full of magic, mythology, and monsters.) Not only did she respond to my question about the love triangle in her books, but she participated in the entire Q & A and, as if that wasn't enough, looked up my book and gave it a review boost! I'm pretty sure that everyone I work with now thinks I'm clinically insane, because I jumped up out of my chair and proceeded to bounce around the office, squealing excitedly when I saw it lol, and you can see it for yourself below.
I sold my first paperback off Amazon this week (yay!), got my first royalty check (double yay! My bills and cupboards thank you, readers.), and did some HUGE updates to my website. There is now a page for each one of my separate series, starting with the Star Crossed one of course. Here you can read quotes from each of the books in the Star Crossed series, read more about the tragic love stories that inspired it, view how I see my main characters on my character board, listen to some of the songs that were my writing soundtrack for this series, and stay up to date on book signings and author appearances. Check it out for yourself by clicking the link below and let me know what you think. :)
Only three more days until Fathoms Above goes to my editor! (Come on, February 1st! Get here already lol.) I am so excited to work with the lovely and talented H. Danielle Crabtree as she helps me bring this book to life. And last, but certainly not least, I am so ecstatic to finally announce that there is going to be a second book signing for Fathoms Below, sponsored by and held at my Alma Mater, Hawkinsville High School! There's no set date or time for this event yet, so make sure you check back on my feeds as I update them for one. But I ordered the books today, and they are set to be here by Feb. 13, so I am thinking sometime during the first week of March. A GIANT thanks to my mom, who teaches at Pulaski County Middle School, all the English Literature teachers at the middle and high school, the school librarian, and the school superintendent for helping to make this event a reality! I never forgot a single word of encouragement that each one of you gave me growing up about my writing, and I look forward to working with you to finish planning this event.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
SWAG~ What to bring to your book events
*** UPDATE ***
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Going beyond the ordinary…
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Giveaways and cool stuff
In other book related news, I just got confirmation this morning that another fabulous local vendor, Tom and Sandy's Horseshoe Restaurant, has started selling copies of Fathoms Below! This was such an unexpected treat, and I cannot think these wonderful people enough for giving me this opportunity. Paperback copies are only $13 each and in limited supply, so if you're a townie, live nearby, or on the road and just passing through, stop by and purchase one for yourself or the YA Fantasy lover(s) in your life! And don't forget to give yourself enough time to sit down at a table and enjoy some truly delicious southern cooking served with a free helping of small town hospitality. For more info about Tom and Sandy's Horseshoe Restaurant, visit their website by clicking on the link below, and keep checking back here to see when Fathoms Below will be available at stores near you! I have two more lined up already (can't mention any names yet until it's final) that should start carrying it within the next two weeks. (Does author happy dance) :)
I was a little late to the party to participate, but I still managed to review the live Q & A on Twitter in which one of my personal favorite authors, Cassandra Clare, whose Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices, and Lost Artifacts books have catapulted the genre of YA Fantasy to new heights, talked with readers about her upcoming work. I did, however, have the privilege of participating in the #YAThrillersChat with outstanding YA authors Victoria Scott and Merrie Destefano, where I and other readers got to pick their brains about all things book and writing related. Since I recently read Victoria Scott's Fire & Flood and Salt & Stone, she has become another of my favorite authors (it's quite an extensive list lol), so getting to talk to her one-on-one was a dream come true! If you haven't read any of her books yet, I totally recommend hopping over to Goodreads and checking them out! The two I mentioned above were beyond excellent (hopefully one day there will be a third!), and although I haven't read her Dante series yet, it's definitely on my to-read list for 2017. One of her upcoming books, Violet Grenade, is also listed as a Giveaway on Goodreads (yes, I signed up for it, and I included the link below for your easy access), and she gave a little sneak-peak reading of her other upcoming book, Hear the Wolves, on Instagram that left me longing for more! (There's a link below for that as well if you'd like to hear it.) And, since we're talking videos, I posted a new one as well: the full length video of my presentation and reading of Fathoms Below at the Savannah Art Walk last weekend. Check it out at the link to my YouTube channel below. (Be warned, it is a long video lol. There is a shorter, edited version on my Instagram page, also below.) Plus, if you missed either of those Twitter events, not to worry! You can still review them on my Twitter feed by clicking on the link below.