Thanks, Amazon!

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This morning I woke up to the most thrilling e-mail. Most of what Amazon sends me is junk. However, This one didn’t upset me. I remember when my first book came out a couple years ago. The arrival of the e-mail suggesting my own book to me was a rite of passage, a coming of authorial age. This one felt even better. All my books on the top, and most of my anthologies below, it was like a strange kind of stalker-ish love letter.

I’m not sure why they don’t filter out the ones I’ve already bought through them. It’s like the kindle app on my tablet, recommending books I currently have in on the device. But I forgive them because it’s so pretty.

They even gave me a cool author page.

I know they generated this e-mail based on the books I’ve looked up on their site. I wish they’d send it to somebody besides me. ;) For normal readers it’s an attempt to put the same image and words in front of them multiple times so they are more likely to buy. Yet in this instance it’s more of a snapshot of so much blood and tears. (I don’t really sweat when I’m writing.)

I know there are a lot of people who hate Amazon because it’s the horseman of the book apocalypse come to reign doom down on all the order and control of the big-6 publishing monopoly. I think I will cast my vote on the other side of the fight. Amazon just made it possible for every voice to get into the arena. The best will still win the gladiation. So today, I’m just saying thanks.

I doubt their multi-billion dollar corporation will notice, but in this one author’s life, the changes they enacted have made all the difference.

Salvation Blog Tour

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It’s my turn! I’m pretty sure everybody following this blog has heard about my books. If not, go check out the amazing posts on this blog tour, or just go buy the book!

If you like the Fall into Fantasy blog tour, you can still sign up and join it. We will be having a huge Facebook Party at the end on December 12, to which you are all invited.

Finally, don’t miss my Rafflecopter to celebrate the giveaways this week. Go check it out and win prizes!

Author Interview: Mara Valdarran

I whipped up some interview questions for Mara. Rather than do the usual bit about inspiration and what’s in the books, I thought I’d ask her some real questions. Here’s what she had to say.

1) Why do you think war is so often a theme in books?

Oh, good question! Wars are such strong conflicts, so I think it is easy to turn to that as a plot point. But I also think wars are very representative of struggles we all face. It isn’t always about armies and violence–sometimes the battles we encounter are more internal or subtle than that, but wars are a good symbol for those battles and the ripple effect our choices have. In Heirs of War, there’s been a sort of cold war brewing between the rebel Cahirans and the Duillaine for a long time, but the thing is–neither side is right. You can think you are making the right choices, but it isn’t until you are face to face with the consequences that you find out whether or not you were correct. It’s easy to identify with that type of struggle, even if it is on a smaller scale in your actual life. But sometimes those choices can feel so big that they are life or death, even if they aren’t. And I think that’s what moves people with these books that have wars as a central conflict or plot point. You can identify with Katniss as a reluctant hero, because stepping up and making the call isn’t necessarily something you might want to do. But when you are backed into a corner, much like she was, and you can see how you can effect changes that might be necessary, will you be brave enough to do it? Will you be your own Mockingjay? I think that’s how we are able to relate, as readers, to these characters and their struggles.

Do you think authors should stick to writing what they know or write what they love?

I’m never an advocate of sticking to writing what you know. That’s what the imagination is for, in my opinion. I’ve never had magic or been to a magical world like Zelene in Heirs of War, and I’ve never had a seizure or woken up in another reality like Madeline in Altar of Reality, but I still write about them. There are parts of me–things that I do know–in those books, but I don’t think we should limit ourselves to what we know. That’s also the beauty of knowledge–there’s always room for more. So if I decide I want to write about astronauts, I can learn about them as best I can. And while I’m writing that astronaut character, I get to live that experience on some small level, which is one of the most fascinating things about writing fiction for me.

What does magic in a book tell us about the author? What does it tell us about the readers?

I think it tells us that we believe in the impossible. We dream big, and we view things through the type of lens that allows us to see so much more than is right before our eyes. As both readers and writers, I think it says that we want to experience more than life might offer us at the moment, but that we will never stop hoping that it gives us more.

If you knew your next book would FOR SURE be read by ten million readers, what message would you put in it?

Oof. That’s a hard one. I don’t think I would want to know that my book would be read by ten million readers. Too much pressure! :) When I write, it isn’t because I have a particular theme or message in mind. I created racial tensions in Heirs of War without realizing it. I wanted to show these people who look the same hating each other because of unseen differences. It’s far too easy to look at someone or look at their culture and judge them, or think your way is better. I think it is something we are all guilty of in some way, but I didn’t put it in there to be preachy. Just as an observation. Do I hope it speaks to people? Sure, but that’s after the fact.

I will say that one of the most likely messages would be about how powerful love is. It can be a weapon, a tool, a motivator–it all depends on the person. It can be the element of a character’s destruction or their path to salvation. (Not to get all geeky on you, but that’s one of the things I find fascinating about Ward on Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. It’s already been an element of destruction for him, but can it redeem him now? Hmm….) There are light and dark sides to love, happiness and hurt. I love exploring it all and seeing just how strong it can be in each character and why.

The NA fantasy series, Heirs of War has taken Wattpad by storm with over one million reads, and the second installment has arrived. Get Heirs of War #1 for just 99 cents now!


Draconic King Interior Art

Draconic King

I love this interior art for my short story, Draconic King, by the talented Ricky Gunawan. He did the one for Cyber Cowboy, too. Every time he makes art for my stories, I want to get them done as a tattoo! I love that CQ does art for each story, too.

This anthology, Primetime: Chronology, is due out November 24. It includes a short story by the amazing Piers Anthony! You won’t want to miss that one. In the meantime, you can get my latest short story on Amazon now. I rendered the art for every story in it. :)

Review: Maladaptive Blind by Sarah Seeley

Mal Bind

Angela Thornley doesn’t know why she’s still alive. When park rangers found her, she couldn’t speak or move, let alone remember what the serial killer, “The Man,” did to her and her husband before he buried them alive. At least, not until she hears the social workers talk about putting her five-year-old son, Blake, in a foster home and she feels his little fingers slip from her hand.

Determined to function so she can protect and care for her son, Angela works hard to unlock and heal the dark memories of her kidnapping buried deep in her subconscious. But her journey leads to unsettling discoveries about the darkness she harbors in her own soul. Due to an unknown combination of genetic and traumatic triggers, Angela is beginning a rapid, painful transformation. The anger that kept Angela alive is also driving her to dangerous thoughts of retribution on the man that killed her husband and broke her spirit.

Soon, Angela begins attacking innocent victims she believes are “The Man.” As she struggles to cope with her transformation, she must determine how far she is willing to go to protect her son and avenge her wounded psyche before she becomes the very sort of monster that bit her.

My Review:

So, have you ever met a sweet looking author who is very kind and a little shy, then you read her book and it is the most twisted and dark horror you’ve ever experienced? Yeah, that.

Sarah and I have been on panels together at several conventions, most recently the Vampires panel at Salt Lake Comic Con. I’m always interested in a new take on an old classic and I found the title to be exceptionally intriguing, so I got her book. For Halloween I pulled it out. Whoa! Talk about a mind-pretzel. Seeley doesn’t hold back. Her monsters go all the way to the end of the psychotic spectrum. Measured against a religious ruler, I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading. I sure couldn’t put it down. Now I can’t stop wondering… can she do it again in her next book?

Get Maladaptive Blind by Sarah E. Seeley.

Heirs of War by Mara Valdarran

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Seventeen year-old Zelene has never believed in magic or been one to trust fate. Prophecies about princesses and long lost families were the stuff of fairy tales and had no place in her life. But then magic-wielding assassins attack claiming she is one of the five Duillaine Ainnir, the next generation of the most powerful women who rule over the worlds. Together, the five girls are prophesized to save the worlds from the war that has been raging for years.

As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, but Isauria is completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.

Zelene views them all, especially the elders, with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know what she can do when her own magic is still locked within her, but can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

Get Heirs of War!

Check out the sequel.

Mara Valdarran is a contributing author in The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthology. Her story, The Austenation, crosses Jane Austen with werewolves… AWESOME!

I’m thrilled about this book! The first time I met Mara was during a contest by Curiosity Quills Press. I worked with her on the beginning of this story and her query letter during a feature: Put Voice In Your Query. Later, I had the opportunity to acquire one of her books for CQ! She’s a very talented writer. She did a guest blog for me before about book soundtracks. Check back this Thursday, I’m going to do another guest post featuring Mara and some of her wisdom. I highly recommend her work.

Mara author pic

Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she’s more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

Go see her website!

Review: Caller 107 by Matthew Cox

Caller 107

When thirteen-year-old Natalie Rausch said she would die to meet DJ Crazy Todd, she did not mean to be literal.

Two years is a long time to be stuck between two people who want nothing more than to destroy each other. A tween crush on the larger-than-life jock from a local radio station is the only trace of a once-happy life ruined by warring parents.

Whenever WROK 107 ran a contest, she would dive for the phone, getting busy signals and dead air every time. She never expected to get through, but at least with her best friend at her side, it used to be fun.

Before her parents ruined that too.

Her last desperate attempt to get their attention, falling in with a dangerous group of older teens, goes as wrong as possible. With no one left to blame for her mess of a life but herself, karma comes full circle and gives her just a few hours to make up for two years’ worth of mistakes–or be forever lost.

My Review: I’m already a fan of Matthew Cox’s Cyberpunk books, but this YA was a big divergence for him. I have to say it was better than I expected. This is a hard hitting story about a young teen dealing badly with more than a fair share of hardships. Cox doesn’t pull any punches, taking readers to the depths of despair and then lower. Coming back from an unbelievable depth, the ending is powerful and emotional. You’ll want to cry and cheer.

Content Warning: When I say the author doesn’t pull any punches, I mean the main character deals with some of the darkest parts of humanity without censorship. Sometimes that’s what has to happen to get the message across.

I really like the cover… maybe because it reminds me of Exacting Essence!

Get Caller 107 now!

Read his online serial, Divergent Fate, for free!