15 June 2015

Shards-An Interview with the Authors that Stole My Title

Not that Fiona and Matt knew that I was thinking of naming my latest book Shards, but I'm still going to pretend to be really upset for about ten seconds.

Pause.

Okay, I'm finished.

Today we have the writing duo of Matt and Fiona. Their second book, Shards *cough* is out and about in the world.

They foolishly asked me to host them on my blog. Silly kids.

Here's the giveaway that you absolutely need to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shards is the second book in the Prospero Chronicles. The first is Splinters. You'll want to read that too.

Here's the Skinny on Shards:

When autumn descends on Prospero, California, Ben Pastor hopes that the normality of the new school year may offer a reprieve from the town's recent paranormal horrors. Mina Todd, however, knows all too well that there are no reprieves and no normality in this town, especially after she starts having crippling, unexplained hallucinations of the dead. But even she can't prepare for what the coming year holds. 

On top of a brewing civil war that threatens all of humanity, inside the walls of Prospero High, Ben, Mina, and their expanding network face a sinister campaign that aims to destroy their friendship, a newly human Haley Perkins struggling to readjust to life, and an assassin of untold power who is picking off human rebels. 

Ben and Mina's one hope may rest with a mysterious figure hiding in the woods outside of town; a living legend who may know how to stop this dangerous new breed of supernatural foe. That is, assuming the figure doesn't first kill everyone himself. 

And now, this is what Matt and Fiona have to say for themselves:

Only using colors and sounds, describe how you feel about mornings.

Matt: Blackness. Moans of despair. Clock radio talking. Clock radio smashing. The deranged laughter of one running freely away. Light blue sky. Resigned sighs of someone remembering responsibility and getting ready for work.

Fiona: Clock radio display red, whining mumbles about how I want to cuddle with Matt forever, Coffee with just enough milk brown.

If you got to pick the shape of a stress ball (one of those squishy ones that you can squeeze in your hand when your plot isn't working) what would it be?

Matt: I could really go for one in the shape of my enemies heads on a pike. I mean, I'd have to get some enemies first, but it would be really cool.

Fiona: I've actually been trying to find one in the shape of the companion cube from Portal. I can't believe they don't make them. I rely on stress balls, but I don't really project what's frustrating me onto them. I wouldn't want one in the shape of something I feel like crushing. They're more like little friends who don't mind siphoning off my aggression so I don't have to deal with it. A companion cube would be perfect to attach to and anthropomorphize in a creepily unwarranted manner.

Obviously you can write. Name one talent you wish you had? Why?

Matt: Now if you asked for superpowers, I'd have a good million answers for you. For this, though, I'm drawing a little more of a blank. I guess I'd like to be able to sing better than I do, at the very least it would get fewer complaints from the neighbors every time I take a shower.

Fiona: Ooh, tough choice, there are a bunch of these. Practically, I'd probably choose speed reading without reduced comprehension. I'm a very thorough reader (i.e slow), which is a great help when it comes to absorbing examples of writing done well down to the most detailed level, but my to-read list is forever overflowing, and I hate how strict I have to be about prioritizing what makes the list. Less practically, vocal mimicry! It's a skill that's always fascinated me and that I have none of whatsoever.

Has your favorite color ever influenced a major decision in your life?

Matt: While my favorite color is purple, I cannot say it's decided much of my life, sad to say.

Fiona: Unless you count what color I picked for my prom dress, wedding dress trim, or first car as important life decisions (I don’t), probably not. It's green, though.

Why horror? Why not unicorns and lollypops?

Matt: This one's probably my fault. I was the horror guy first and then I brought Fiona over to the dark side. For me it's a simple story: I was the kid who was afraid of everything, especially those scary-looking "horror" movies, and yet despite my general fear I had a fascination with the genre. I read Goosebumps books and watched old Universal monster movies and 50's b-movie classics. I was fascinated with how movies are made, the topic of movie makeup especially, and would devour books on the subject. Then one day I read a book about a famed horror movie makeup artist (Tom Savini, for the curious out there), was intrigued by some of the stuff he'd done, and one thing led to another and I found myself tracking down some of his films, then other classics, then I was a horror junkie. I love embracing my fears and sharing them with others.

Fiona: I've always seen the exploration of the psyche in a more controlled, targeted way than reality allows for, as one of the main purposes of fiction. Happy, harmless things don't compel me to understand them by whatever safe means possible the way fear and more complicated feelings do.

Which monster (fictional or otherwise) would you be the most terrified to face off with?

Matt: I'm going to stick to the fictional on this one since the real-world monsters (the people, I mean, in this case) are too terrifying and depressing to put more words to. Fictionally... Chucky. Just Chucky.

Fiona: Probably Anthony Fremont. I’ve got major control freak issues, so all-powerful villains that can only be dealt with by asking nicely scare the expletive out of me. That or Count Vertigo from DC, if he counts as a monster. Losing the feeling of gravity working as it should is the surest, quickest thing to dissolve me into a gibbering loon.

What can the readers of Splinters expect from Shards?

Matt: Ben and Mina are going to be tested, hard. They're not sure if they're really friends or more allies, and when put in the pressure cooker that is high school their friendship will be sorely tested, especially when the Splinters do everything in their power to tear the two of them apart (mostly figuratively, slightly literally).

Fiona: All that, and then there are the Shards themselves, which are basically the Splinters’ altered, enhanced, and mentally unstable warrior class. With the Splinters fighting each other as well as the Network, they're bringing out their big guns, and the Network are stuck in the crossfire.

What part of the first book did you enjoy putting into the second book? (ie characters, a relationship, funny lines...)

Matt: We planned this as a series from the start and always try to put a few slight references from future books into whatever we're working on, so it's fun to actually build up characters we only introduced in passing before into some of the major forces to be reckoned with. Also, it's now fun to see where Haley is, after getting over her problems from the previous book.

Fiona: Yeah, We slipped in some setup for a few of the big villains of Shards back in Splinters, so now that gets to pay off. And having already done the setup for Ben and Mina themselves and their relationship, we now have room to go deeper.

In ten words or less, describe what writing a second book is like. Be creative.

Matt: Like Jenga, moving old pieces, adding new ones, don't fall!

Fiona: Take the best parts, make them better, add new wrinkles.

If you had one minute to pitch your story to a movie producer (one that would of course make an awesome movie out of it) what would you say? (This is the part where you wow us with how awesome your book is!)

Matt: It's a YA book that doesn't talk down to its audience, aims its content to both genders equally, has flamethrowers and intrigue and bigfoot and this guy with a hook for a hand and gossip and bullying and distrust and alien abductions and some really cool characters (some new, some old)... well, if I have to say a lot more than that to get you interested this book probably isn't for you.


Fiona: Complicated and badass heroine. There are never enough of those. Non-objectified male characters as well, and plenty of monster fighting action. Like Matt said, this is a story for guys and girls. Most importantly, we've got a lovable supporting cast and a colorful, creepy little world that people can get lost in. And the stakes for our lovable, mismatched band of rebels are only going to rise.


If you would like to stalk either of these two (don't say I didn't warn you) try these avenues.

Facebook:

Twitter:
@FJR_Titchenell
@MCarterAuthor

Blog:
mattcarterauthor.weebly.com
FJRTitchenell.weebly.com

Email:
fionatitchenell@yahoo.com
mattcarterauthor@gmail.com

02 June 2015

Summer in Snow Valley


Today we're hosting a brand new, little bundle of novelettes. Which, P.S., makes it sound as cute a a pair of toddler shoes.

The following is what happens when you let too many romance writers go out to dinner together. I guess we all get to reap the benefits, right?

If you haven't checked out the original, Christmas in Snow Valley, then click the title. We're talking enough clean romance to make you gag in the sweetness. In a good way, 


#1 Bestselling Authors of Christmas in Snow Valley, have teamed up again with six wonderful summer novellas that are sure to make your summer sweet and sassy!







Catching Caytie by Amazon Top Seller Cindy Roland Anderson

On the night Caytie Holbrook intends to break up with her cheating boyfriend, he blindsides her by announcing their engagement at a dinner party. When Caytie discovers her father is in on the scheme, she runs away from her home in Beverly Hills to hide out at her uncle’s ranch in Snow Valley, Montana. While Snow Valley is a beautiful place, Caytie only plans to stay until her twenty-fifth birthday when she’ll inherit a trust fund her grandmother left her, allowing her to pursue her dream to move to Italy. That is until she meets Jace McAllister, an incredibly sexy—although somewhat grumpy—cowboy who threatens to disrupt her plans.

Tin Foil Tiaras by Amazon Top Seller Jeanette Lewis

Cameron Elliott has come to Snow Valley to coach Annalisa Drake in the Miss Snow Valley pageant, and prove to her demanding boss that she deserves a place at the prestigious Westbrooke Agency. But Annalisa’s handsome and protective big brother, Kyle, is determined to keep his sister from becoming a reluctant beauty queen. As Cameron tries to win Kyle over, Kyle insists some things are more valuable than a title and as crazy as it sounds, Cameron might just believe him.

A Touch of Love by Amazon Top Seller Cami Checketts

Annie Stirland has endured a lifetime of teasing, embarrassment, and isolation due to her speech impediment. When irresistible cowboy, Luke Wilson, seems to be falling for her, she’s certain he’s too good to be true. A tragedy involving his ex-girlfriend proves she’s right. What man can resist sheltering someone they once loved? Annie knows she should walk away, but Luke isn’t ready to give her up.

First Love by Amazon Top Seller Taylor Hart 

Janet Snow doesn’t expect to get caught in a full-blown make out session at her brother’s wedding. Especially not with Michael Hamilton, the boy she’d written off ten years ago. Even though they both agree to no complications, Janet's not sure they can stick to it given their past. After a trip to the hot springs, a helicopter ride, and a proposal, even the most cautious single mother would start to wonder if true love really is just about the timing. Now Janet has to make a choice—play it safe or trust that her first love could also be her last. 


Romancing Rebecca by Amazon Top Seller, Kimberley Montpetit

Rebecca Dash loved spending her teen summers swooning over Jane Austen and helping her aunt at the Starry Skies Bed & Breakfast in Snow Valley. But as a recent college grad, she’d rather write sappy romance novels than go out with guys that make her a nervous wreck. When a team of fire-fighters set up camp on the lawns of the B&B and Captain Wade catches her eye, Becca soon learns that there’s more to a happily-ever-after than a flirty fireman with muscles the size of the Montana hills.

Love in Light and Shadow by Amazon Top Seller Lucy McConnell

Mercedes O'Shay has sworn off gorgeous men because they have a tendency to break her heart. When she meets her new neighbor, Chet Bauer, she immediately puts him in the Do Not Date category based on his well-defined muscles and stunning blue eyes. But the more Mercedes learns about the cowboy who reads classics and forges iron, the more she realizes the heart doesn't see in black and white; it sees light and shadows.

Excerpt from A Touch of Love

“Do you ever write down what you’re thinking?” Luke asked.
Annie's eyebrows arched. He loved the way she did that.
“Would you write for me? What you’re thinking?”
She shrugged her shapely shoulders and studied him for a few seconds before pulling out a notepad. She wrote for a few seconds then handed it to him.
I’m thinking that this cowboy is a nice guy who’s uncomfortable with my silence.
“I guess you got me there. I don’t really talk too much, usually just swear at the cattle. So I’m not a nice guy at all.”
She took the pad back, wrote, and handed it to him again.
You’re definitely a nice guy. I knew that when you bought the thoughtful gift for your sister. Why do you want to take me to dinner? Feeling bad for the new girl in town?
He grinned. “Nope. Feeling intrigued by the new girl in town and wanting to get to know her better.” He handed the pad back to her.
You don’t have the time to get to know me better, it would take hours for me to get anything out with my stutter.
He laughed. “Sweetheart, I’ve got the time and the desire to get to know you better. I really do love the sound of your voice, but if you’re more comfortable we could communicate like this.”
Her grin widened. How about we give it a few days? I don’t go to dinner with men I don’t know.
“How about I come back tomorrow and see you so you don’t have to go to dinner with a man you don’t know?” He paused. “Dang. Tomorrow we’re checking the range cows. Friday?”
She looked dubious.
“I’d like an appointment Friday at five for...” He looked over the list of options. “A foot zone. If you’re available, I’d like to take you to dinner after.”
She wrote quickly. Reading your feet will definitely help me get to know you. Are you sure you’re ready for that kind of disclosure?
A surprised laugh escaped him. “You can tell stuff about me from rubbing my feet?”
She pointed at the word reading.
“Reading my feet?”
She nodded, looking very smug.
“Okay. I have nothing to hide. You’re sure we can’t go to dinner tonight?”
She waved at him.
Luke inclined his head. Annie was a challenge. He liked her more each minute.

22 May 2015

Shiny Objects

By the lack of updates on this blog, you can probably guess that I've been a bit distracted lately.

Many things distract me. Things like, shiny objects, Oreo cookies, sleep, my day job, Netflix, the internet, puppies, candy, shiny objects, shoes. Shiny shoes.

You see, there are so many lovely things in the world.

 Well, the past month or two I've really been pouring on the steam so that I could release my own shiny object out into the world.

It didn't come without blood, sweat and tears. I've rewritten this novel four times. All for the better. My cover artist had some personal issues come up and couldn't finish the cover art, so 4 weeks ago today I was desperately trolling the web and asking other authors to find a new cover artist. My day job decided that they can't live without me and asked me to work more hours. There was probably a paper cut in there somewhere (thus the blood). And let me tell you, without my adorkable husband to help me figure out formatting for e-books and Createspace, this may not have ever happened.

But it did! And now I have a shiny, new book to show for all of my efforts.

This is the third book I've published, and my first Indie adventure. This story showcases just a snippet of the countless hours I've spent in a dojo, which was really great. As a matter of fact, if anyone from any of my Kempo classes reads this, you just might recognize a drill or two. Maybe Sensei's twisted sense of humor. Or that could be mine.

Letting things go isn't always easy-there is always something that could be improved-but why beat a dead horse? It just smells bad and goes squish.

So to avoid any more squishing, here it is!

Fractured Memories
 
Sixteen year old Wendy never knew the world before the Starvation. She’s learned to put her trust in her knives, and her confidence in her fighting ability. When the Skinnies attack her compound, she's the lone survivor.

Injured and near death, Wendy is rescued and nursed back to health by mysterious strangers. Her saviors offer her a place among them, but trust has never been one of Wendy's strengths, and suspicion soon leads to evidence that these people might be the group who killed her family.

The decision to get her revenge, and take the settlement down from the inside out is easy. Keeping her distance from those she must befriend in order to make it happen proves to be much more difficult.

There will be blog tours and maybe a party or something. But that'll be later. For now, I have a book up on Amazon. Nook to come.


One great snippet, the first e-book I sold was in the UK. Now that's cool!

11 May 2015

Just a Quick Google-Seriously

Getting married is all about sharing. My least favorite (well, besides the fact that boys are stinky) thing that I now get to share with my husband is his student loans. We've been busting our check books and getting them paid off really fast. Which has been great.

We were ready to pay one off, but had to go to the U of U to make the final payment. I thought back to my college days, and remembered the weekly mad dash to get off campus every Friday. What better time to wander up there?

So my hubby and I decided to meet for lunch and then go to the financial office last Friday. We even met at 12:30 so we could avoid the lunch rush.

What I didn't realize, what I never would have thought about, is the fact that last Friday was graduation day.

Oops.

We get to campus and there are people everywhere. There are signs saying to park at the stadium and take the shuttle over to the ceremonies.

Naturally, the building we a want is right in the middle of all of the ceremonies.

There were no parking spots to be had.

And let's not forget that people get stupid in groups, and they get high on the scent of cheap flowers, the sway of tassels and the itchy fabric of creased graduation robes.

What should have taken us 15 minutes, ended up taking us a good hour.

Did I forget to mention the ominous clouds circling campus? It started to rain just as soon as we found a parking spot. Go us.

Luckily, my hubby is persistent (aka, he hates losing, even if it is to a plan to pay a school) and we made it to the financial office building place with only wet clothes to show for our efforts. We were two of four people in the entire place, and it took us less than five minutes to get the deed done.

At that point, we rushed back off campus and found a place to eat. The crazed graduation crowd was right behind us, but we beat them to Red Robin and sneered as they waited.

Yes, it worked out. The morale of the story is-there's always time to do a quick Google search. It could save you time and frustration. And maybe your life. Or someone else's life if you're the type to get enraged about mobs of insane people.


27 April 2015

Eyes on the Prize

So I'm sitting at my computer, staring at the white screen of death that Word gives you when you fire up a new document. I've shifted in my seat at least three times. I pulled up the internet, then immediately turned it back off. The number of dramatic sighs have gotten lost in the din of my brain saying, "just go take a nap."

It doesn't help that the curtains are open, and there is a breeze blowing outside that keeps drawing my eye to the tree with the red leafs across the street.

You see, I just did it again!

Oh, and there may or may not be a small bag of cookies on my desk. At one point there were cookies in there, but not anymore.

Which makes me sad.

But as I was gearing up to write a blog post about book covers, I kept getting distracted by all of these other wonderful (and frankly more interesting) things around me.

I think about what to type, but before I actually begin typing, I have a cookie. Then I must finish the cookie, lick my fingers clean, then go back to typing. But by then, I've decided I didn't like what I had been thinking about before, and I have to start over.

It is  vicious cycle. One I'm sure we've all been through at one time or another. Or five times this afternoon.

So why do we stall?  Why do we dawdle? Why can't we follow the advice of Nike and "Just Do It?"

In my case, the problem is generally one of two things.

First, and forgive me a moment of spirituality, I will figure out that I'm going in the wrong direction in any given project that I'm working on. Sometimes I can fight and fight and fight, but in the end I give up, and turn down a different path, and BAM, life is roses and Sprite. This happens in my life as well.

Second, my eye is not, as they say, on the prize.  Or, and this is a subcategory, I don't have enough of a project thought out to actually have a prize in mind.



Let's take this blog. What is the purpose of my blog? In the beginning, about a thousand writers told me that I had to have a blog, so that when I got fans they would know where to find me. They would want to know witty and silly things about my life. So that's what I blog about. Plus some writing stuff.

But that's sort of gone all wishy-washy. Especially since blogs are no longer the preferred platform of social networking.

But I like blogging. I don't love Twitter.

So why am I here?

Not sure. I guess my goal now is to figure out what my prize is. Then I can go for it.

As long as cookies don't get in the way.

Take a look at something you're doing in your own life. Is it making you happy? Do you know why you're doing it, or could the reasoning use an overhaul? If you don't see a prize, then consider taking the time to reevaluate your actions. Don't waste time on things that don't really matter.


On the flip side, when you see a worthy prize ahead of you, work like crazy to get there. It's always worth it!

20 April 2015

The Altar of Well-Meaning Advice

Crying freaks me out.

You know in the movies when the woman breaks down into hysterical tears and the poor boy doesn’t know what to do about it. Hug her? Get her a tissue? Slowly walk away while keeping eye contact the whole way?

I’m a girl, but that’s usually my reaction to tears. I know when I cry, I like to be left alone (except by the husband, who is required to hug me until I tell him he can leave). So that’s what I usually do.



Over the last month or so, I’ve watched a lot of friends and family members struggling. I won’t go into details—we all know that this life can throw curve balls and sling mud on a level that rivals political campaigns. Just imagine your worst day or week or year and perhaps double it.

I’ve had a lot of friends who have had miscarriages. This is a horrible situation to be in. Years ago I was speaking with a friend’s husband, and I simply told him how sorry I was.

He glared at me.

I said nothing more, mostly because I had nothing more to say. I’ve never been through that. What advice could I possibly offer him?

After a second, his face softened, and he said, “Thanks. I thought you were going to go on.”

“Uh, no.”

Then he snapped. He told me how many people tried to tell him about the time that their friend or family member went through the same thing, or that he should just turn to God, turn away from God, go take a vacation, quit his job to be home with his wife…pick a statement and someone offered it up on the altar of well-meaning advice.


He’s a passionate guy, and he was furious. He said to me, “You know what? You can tell the people who have been through it, because they don’t elaborate. They look at you and say, ‘I’m so sorry.’ You know that they know how you feel, and they remember that nothing really helped them, so they just pat you on the shoulder and walk away. Why can’t other people do the same?”

At this point, I was glad I’d stuck with my simple sympathy.

But he’s right. In general, people who love you want to help you. They’re not always equipped to do so, but that hardly ever stops them. And sometimes it’s hard to not smack them. Or, in my cause, wonder why I’m not giving them a hug or offering them food.

We’re here to help one another through this mess of life. I wish I had the perfect answers for everyone who had questions, and I wish I knew the exact words to say to pull someone out of a downward spiral, but I rarely do. And most of the time, if you’re the one crashing, and you’re not ready to be comforted, no one’s words will help you

As an author, I put my characters through hell all the time. As a friend, I wish I could write the problems away, but it doesn’t work like that.

Everyone is going through something. It may not feel as important or as real as your own problems, but for the person suffering, it is. Be a listening ear. Don’t judge, and whatever you do, don’t make light of someone else’s pile of issues.


No writing advise today, just a call to be a good friend. Everyone needs one or two.

06 April 2015

The Brand Demand and the Guy Who Wrote It.

Hey everyone,
Today we are hosting the, ah, er, umm...one and only (because the world can only handle a single copy) Johnny Worthen.

Seriously, if you've met him there is no short description, and if you haven't, hold on to all of your bits and pieces.

Although if you have a short description, leave it in the comments. I'm curious.

Johnny has a handful of books already published. None of them are the same flavor. Which is pretty much awesome. His latest baby is:




As usual, I sent him some highly personal questions to answer. Although I held off on anything having to do with the bathroom or bodily functions. Mostly to spare you.

1-Write down the next four thoughts you have. (I'm just trying to demonstrate your acute and somewhat epic ADD)

1— I’m sick of this song. I should change it.
2— Where’s the remote?
3— I spend too much time looking for the remote.
4— Come on! Where’s the goddamn remote!


2-Let's say you are king of the world, what one food would you purge from planet Earth?

Licorice


3-Would you support Pay Per View combat rounds in the Senate? They have to fight it out in order to speak on the floor? They get to choose weapons—thumb wars, swords, Q-Tips...

No. Bullies always win things like that.


4-What is the most frightening aspect of Southern Utah Romance Writers? There must be a story here.

G rating. It’s not tantalizing, it’s not titillating, it’s trying and tame. Give me flesh!


5-In six words, describe politics. I'm insanely curious.

Rich people exploiting poor people.


6-What get rich quick scheme tempts you the most?

Armored car heist.


7-How did a political thriller make it to the top of your to write list?

The politics is mostly motivation. It reflects the frustration many left leaners feel in a very conservative environment. It was born out of the Prop 8 debacle in California and the terrible Bush years we’ve yet to recover from. It’s a story about a person who holds strong beliefs but holds them without a tether to the world he’s trying to protect. Galen Reed, the protagonist, limits himself emotionally and intellectually as he fights a Robin Hood crusade against toxic hypocrites and unfettered capitalism. It is ultimately a character study of loneliness and purpose, two of my favorite themes.


8-What was the best part about writing this book?

I’ve always admired Edward Abbey. When I became a writer, I wanted to do something like he had done and create a mythology of resistance. THE BRAND DEMAND gave me a chance to connect with his MONKEY WRENCH GANG a little bit. Different times need different tactics, but both gangs are fighting for what I think is right.


9-So, why should we read your book? Hmmm? (This is the part where you dazzle us with your rapier wit.)

THE BRAND DEMAND is an adventure/mystery. It’s about bad guys who are good guys and one guy who meets a gal. It’s got high stakes and local color. It has an eclectic ganga and a sex scene that makes me blush. It challenges both sides of the political spectrum and is a page-turning read. It’s very cool.


10-What's next? Following your career is like riding the Tea Cups—you never know where you'll end up.

This is a hat-trick year for me. First, I have THE BRAND DEMAND now. In July, CELESTE, THE UNSEEN BOOK 2, hits the shelves. That’s a thrill right there. And in the Fall, I have the start of what I hope to be my signature series, THE FINGER TRAP, a Tony Flaner mystery. It’s a comic noir, full of social commentary and mid-life crisis.


Next year, DAVID, THE UNSEEN BOOK 3 will hit and I’m shopping a handful of other titles hoping to break into the big five. I’ll be attending and presenting at writers conferences as much as I can to pick up clues and leave a few. I’m living the dream. Wish me luck

If you would like to as Johnny any questions, mock him or (and this would be better) say hello, here are the many ways he has given the innocents of the world to stalk him:


And if you're now dying to read THE BRAND DEMAND, click on the title and go thee forth unto Amazon!

Look at that face.
Don't let it fool you.