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SOULSTICE – Cover Reveal

Photo session with Wrenee for the cover of Soulstice

Photo session with Wrenee for the cover of Soulstice

I’ve been busy, busy, busy putting the final touches on my latest project, Soulstice, the companion novella to Souled.  This novella puts a spotlight on Alyx,  who, in Alyx’s own words, is the “dark, totally misunderstood, totally underestimated, misfit” of Sandpoint High School.

I adore Alyx – her strength, courage, and her mysterious background.  What makes her qualified to stand up to Seth in his dark hours?  What was her path that brought her to be who she is?

Although she will have floor time in the upcoming sequel, I wanted to satisfy the curiosity of many of the readers who’ve asked me, “Who exactly is Alyx?”

I’m fortunate and eternally grateful that my friend, and outstanding author, Fabio Bueno (his novel Wicked Sense is definitely one of my favorite reads), has taken it upon himself to give me a shout out on his blog and share with you the cover of Soulstice.

In continuing the theme of “keeping it local,” the beauty on the cover is Wrenee, a student here in Sandpoint, Idaho.  Once again, Sandpoint produces a teen professional enough to step up and handle something as important as the cover of a book.  Add to that the makeup expertise of Kimberlee Langford, creative cover design by Crystalyn Abercrombie (my tattoo artist), and photographer, Victoria Melendez.

Curious yet???

Then please head on over to Fabio’s site to check out the cover and to learn a bit more about what the story is all about!

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Cover Reveal – Souled Gets a Makeover

Change is good.  Change is positive.  But it doesn’t make it any easier to let something go…

As much as I adored the original cover of Souled, I felt a change was needed to encompass more of the essence of the novel, which, in addition to ancient sorcery, was a story of love so absolute, so pure, it could transcend ordinary reason.

And because the location of the story took place in North Idaho, I wanted to include the community of Sandpoint in the Souled experience.

I was fortunate that Scott and Elaina, “regular” teens in Sandpoint, agreed to be the models for this cover.  Although neither of them are professional models, they handled themselves like pros and gave the photographer, Victoria McCune, 100% effort.  And in my opinion, it shows.

Also helping to put a professional touch to the make-up part of the session, I was thrilled to have Kimberlee Langford, make-up specialist, on board.

The tattoo design from the original cover, designed by Crystalyn Abercrombie, was definitely kept as part of this cover as that is a constant symbol in the story (as well as tattooed firmly onto my own body).   Steve McCune pulled together all of the pieces to create the final cover.

It’s been incredible working with the people in the community on something such as this project, because after all, it’s their town, their turf, and their support of the novel is very important.

I’ve had a lot of fun so far and I hope you enjoy this cover as much as I do.

Souled is available on Amazon in ebook and print format.

Slenderman Sighting in North Idaho?

This weekend past was a busy and incredibly productive one.  Not only did I have the chance to hang out with my cousin and her husband, but they helped me do a total and complete makeover of the cover to my Young Adult Paranormal novel, Souled, which will be revealed on Friday.  It’s totally unique in the fact that I was able to use local teens for the photo shoot.  They stepped up and did such an incredible job!  I can’t wait to show you all!  So stay tuned for Friday’s post when I give you the low down on the new cover.

This post is going to deviate a little from my norm as I fulfill a promise I made to my #slenderman Twitter peeps for pictures.

This weekend, I took my cousin and her husband to a house I own in North Idaho (which I no longer live in) to show them around.  It’s the home I referred to in a previous post.  The home sits on a beautiful and heavily-wooded 5 acres with lots of places to roam and hide.  There are places that are really magical alongside of  some creepy pockets of slash created by previous loggers.  We walked around the property and got some really interesting pictures.  With all of the interest in Slenderman, and my son’s insistence that I don’t even think about it (which of course I did after that), I’m wondering.  Did I draw him to me?  And where the heck does he really live?

You’ll have to click on the pictures to see what I’m talking about…

My cousin’s husband and I checking out the neglected garden. Look closely on the right of the photo…

I was showing them the faery glen but – fortunately I was looking the other way – we had a close encounter of another kind…

So what do you think?  More than one Slenderman?  Fact?  Fiction? Our overactive imagination?  You tell me.  Should we start a new hashtag of #slenderheads?

Come back Friday to check out the new cover for Souled.  It’s got a whole new feel to it.  I think you’ll agree.

Would You Buy a Soul for $2000?

I was going to blog about something totally different today.  In fact, I have my thoughts scribbled out and ready to be organized into something legible.

Then I got side-tracked by a link sent to me by my friend in Arizona, an interesting and timely story of a woman in New Mexico who listed her soul for sale on eBay.  Click here to see one of the stories circulating he internet.

Want to see who would actually do this and why?

According to one story, eBay has a strict policy about selling human body parts and remains on their site, but they may need to redefine their policy to include souls.  One newscaster actually brought up the point of the logistics of this auction – How is it to be delivered?   How do you know if what you bought has been delivered?

If one were to actually purchase a soul, I would imagine there would be either total elation or total conflicting vibrations that would swirl around inside  our body, leading us to know if it had been “delivered.”  Typically, as like attracts like, an outside entity is attracted to a host body that has the same vibration that it has, such as a happy person, a sad person, an adrenaline junkie – which in turn would heighten whatever is our prominent vibration.  On the flip side, I could see a soul latching onto a host for the sole purpose of draining the host’s energy, while the host soul fights the intruder for control.  That would be where the Jekyll and Hyde thing would play out.

In the case of this New Mexico woman, though, it’s neither of these.  As proof of delivery, the woman offers of a piece of paper – a $2000 piece of paper.  A bill of sale of sorts.  Huh.  Kind of a let-down if you ask me.

But, for Seth Thompson, the high school student who bought a soul on eSouled.com (a site still under contruction – but check it out just for kicks), what he received was quite different than a piece of paper and was a hell of a lot cheaper.  Here is an excerpt from Souled:

My palm began throbbing—not like thorns or needle pricks—more like claws had sunken in and raked down the skin. But my palm was the least of my worries. Because, though I didn’t want to believe it, I felt it. Something was inside me. Something… other. Very other.

A second pulse inside me beat steady, strong, and disturbingly close to mine.

And then the truth hit me. Hard. I knew.

The soul had been delivered.

So, yeah, there’s a lot of crazy stuff out there for sale as people try and unload and make a quick buck.  What about you?  What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen for sale?  Were you  tempted to buy it?

Speaking of crazy things for sale, check out Natalie Hartford’s blog where she posts the best of the craziest and unusual items on the internet.

Going Once, Going Twice…SOULED!!!

So, hey!  Amazing that a week has gone by since I released Souled.  Seems like just yesterday I clicked on the publish button.  The days are flying by for me.  I really wanted to take a few weeks off, but already the opening chapter for the sequel is pounding against my door, demanding to be let in.  I’ll see how long I can hold off.

What I would like to do, though, is give you another peek at a section of Souled.  The first passage was revealed when I got tagged in the Lucky 7 game.  So here’s another part of the story:

“Hey.” I pulled Dani against me again and rested my forehead against hers. “Thanks for going with me tonight.”

“I don’t know why you thought I wouldn’t.” Dani leaned back and searched my face. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, definitely.” This night was going to be great. “I love you,” I said.

“Me, too.”

I cupped her face, pulling her close enough to brush my lips against hers, closing my eyes to shut out everything that could possibly distract me from this moment. The dark behind my eyes became darker before it flared, and stopped me mid-kiss. Something didn’t feel right.

“What’s wrong?” Dani frowned.

“Your mom’s coming.” Perfect timing, because I couldn’t explain what was wrong, just that something felt off, as if something bad was about to happen.

Janice appeared in the doorway. “Sorry I took so long. I had to replace the batteries. This darn thing uses them up so quickly. Okay. Get closer,” she said, sweeping her hand through the air, motioning us to get closer.

I draped my arm around Dani and pressed my cheek against her hair, smiling at the lens.

In the split second after the flash went off, I blinked and in that split second of darkness, I saw it.

What the HELL?! Maksim?!

I focused on Dani, squeezing her shoulder and pulling her closer still. I wasn’t feeling so good anymore. “Thanks, Mrs. Parsons,” I managed to say. “I think we’d better go, Dani. Justin is probably waiting for us.” But there was nowhere I could run to hide from what I had seen. And it was more than seeing; it was suddenly knowing the truth. Knowing I had been duped.

I took a deep breath, causing a tremor in my chest.

The voice had a face. Freakin’ A. He had a face.

And that face told me that Maksim was no angel.

~ ~ ~

Slightly curious about what that was all about?  You can download Souled on your Kindle via Amazon, or pick up the print version, which is available through Createspace or Amazon.

As for the winner of the giveaway, I had my youngest draw a name out of the hat, and the winner is Debra Kristi!  Debra, you need to let me know if you’d like the eBook or print version.

As for the rest of you awesome peeps, I appreciate all of you stopping by and leaving me a comment and supporting the book’s release.  I’d like to show my gratitude by offering you an e-version of Souled.    Thank you so much!!

Time To Soul-e-brate!

Soul attachment, as common as a cold, and just as easy to be rid of… sometimes.  Would you know if another entity had hijacked your body?  If you did, what would you do?

Lose yourself in the story of Maksim and Seth, old versus young, good versus badass.  Available on Amazon in ebook format now, with the print version  available within a few weeks.

What 17-year-old boy wouldn’t be tempted by the promise of power and control – no matter what form that promise came in?

Seth knew exactly what he would do with power and control. He’d be well on his way to a wrestling scholarship, his dad could stop working so hard to make ends meet, and he’d forever have the heart of his girlfriend, Sandpoint High’s most beautiful girl.

For Seth, the temptation was much too strong to resist. And why should he? The way he saw it, he had everything to gain.

But when he unknowingly invites another soul to share his body, Seth discovers that not all power is good – especially when it was never his to wield. And when the soul reveals its true intentions, will Seth have the strength to fight it or would death be less painful?

And just for kicks… Check out location pictures and the story behind the making of the cover.

In honor of Souled’s release, I’m giving away a copy, either ebook format or print.  Just leave a comment and I’ll put your name in hat and draw the winner’s name next Tuesday!

Until then… be careful what you buy online!

 

Sex Sells, But Should Young Adults Buy Into It?

It’s everywhere we look – In magazines, television, movies, books, bedrooms, back seats of cars…you the idea.  There’s no escaping it.  I don’t care how “good” we claim to be, we’ll look.  We’re curious about the body, what it looks like (more importantly, what other bodies look like).  Let’s admit it and move on – naked bodies or scantily clad bodies – are a complete turn on.  We shamelessly flock to online sites en masse and hoot our approval.  For the males, they have the Hooter Girls, the Jaegermeister models, and a long list of others scantily clad women toting tools, beer bottles, and motorcycles.

Us women love, love, love it!  We create it!  Look at what CJ West is doing for the cause!  (By the way, comment on his challenge post and you could win a $500  Amazon gift certificate – but the biggest prize is to get CJ shirtless!)om 1953…

What about brain candy?  Look at the success of Fifty Shades of Grey Sex, sex, and more sex.  And the public is eating it up!  Then there’s Gabriel’s Inferno and the eagerly anticipated The Winemaker’s Dinner (available July 31, 2012).  It’s all about the seduction that makes us squirm (in the very pleasurable sense of the word).

Which brings me to my original topic.  How young is too young for readers to be exposed to sex in literature?  Where should we draw the line?  Should we draw the line?

I’m not advocating it one way or another, because that is a purely personal opinion for authors and the parents of young readers to deal with.  What I have observed, though, is the fact that these young adults are getting younger and are already well-schooled about the ins and outs (yes, pun intended) of sex, the very same stuff some of us try to keep out of their hands.

Let’s face it.  The act of sex is primal.  Used for procreation or not, there is, at various levels, arousal.  None of us are immune to it.

In my day job as a medical transcriptionist, I’ve lost count of how many reports I’ve typed regarding 14-year-olds who go to the emergency room due to complications from their pregnancy.  As much as I’m against babies having babies, the reality is that they know all about sex and keeping it out of books probably isn’t going to stop them from doing the wild thing.  In fact, they’ll see it, read it, and do it if they want.

A friend of mine understands that mentality, and even though her son is only 14 years old, he has a girlfriend, so she keeps a stack of Trojans within his reach.  Just in case.

When I was in seventh grade, there was a couple who spent every lunch, every recess playing throat hockey and copping feels.  Sheesh.  If they did that in public, one could only guess what they did in private.

I’ve been told by a few teens that they’ve read my novel, Again, which has a few choice sex scenes ranging from sweetly intimate to raw. (My guess is that they actually skimmed the book for the “best parts” and ignored the rest.) And they seemed rather proud of themselves for having read it.  I totally cringe at the thought, but then I remind myself of the time when I was 12 or 13 and the stuff I got my hands on. *shrugs*  Whaddya gonna do?

I’m not going to tell you if I wrote any sex into my next Young Adult novel, Souled, or not, because that would be a total spoiler, but suffice it to say, I kept it as real as possible.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Is there a line you draw as a reader or writer?  What are your beliefs?

It’s All In The Mind’s Eye

“The world only exists in your eyes – your conception of it. You can make it as big or as small as you want to.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great words from a great writer, but the question is, how does a writer create a pathway from our eyes to the minds of the readers of novels?  Fortunately, archived records and the Internet can bring history of centuries ago into an author’s hands, allowing us to recreate a world long gone, in order to give the reader some sort of anchor as they turn the pages of our novels.  With a little imagination and fantastic writing skills, many authors transport us back to a time none of us have experienced first hand (at least not in this lifetime).

If the setting of the novel is in the present, we have access to maps, photos, and transportation to get to wherever the story takes place so that we may get a first-hand accounting of the sights and smells of the area.  Though some novel settings are loosely based on a certain locale, the authors are still able to give the reader the same flavor as if that particular imaginary city actually existed.  And those novels that are grounded in an actual place?  That could be a lot of fun for the readers as well.  Just ask Tamie from Bookish Temptations.  She recently toured Toronto in search of the offices, restaurants, museums, and streets that Sylvain Reynard fleshed out in Gabriel’s Inferno.  In reading her blog, you can feel her excitement as she was able to “be” where the characters were.  What a cool connection, right?

In my upcoming novel, Souled, the characters are firmly rooted in Sandpoint, a small town in North Idaho.  Because I am very familiar with the area, I was able to write from first-hand experience.  I’ve posted on my website and on Pinterest, pictures of where some of the scenes take place, so when the novel is released (weeks away), the readers who cannot actually visit the area, can at least “see” where it is that the characters live.

EFX bowling alley

Zero Point (stone shop)

In the case of futuristic or high fantasy, a writer can create an entirely new world, or they can do what Angela Peart has done for her soon-to-be-released novel.  (By the way, she filled me in on the details of her story, and…yeah.  This one is going to rock our socks off.).  So, rather than me trying to explain her method of creating setting, I’m going to let Angela do the talking because you just need to experience it.

Take it away, Angela!

“The story of my upcoming Young Adult paranormal novel, Greed (this is a “working title”), takes place in Seattle—the city that I have been calling home for many years now. But because the plot contains elements of high fantasy, some of the scenes happen in imaginary places. I will introduce those amazing places in another post. Today I want to share with you a very special spot from my novel. It is Queen Anne Academy of the Arts and Sciences in the Seattle’s picturesque district of Queen Anne. No, the school does not exist in reality, but the area is 100% real.

The Seattle skyline viewed from Queen Anne – photo by National Geographic

All except one of my teenage characters attend this prestigious private school. The Georgian architecture building and the surrounding grounds are not based on any real location. Only my imagination and the knowledge that I have obtained, studying interior design at the Art Institute of Seattle, are responsible for the creation of this intriguing place.

I am not ready to reveal my characters’ names just yet. There will be a special blog post in the near future, where you will learn more about them. For now I am simply “coding” them as X, Y, and Z. I know, not very creative, but try to overlook that and only concentrate on the descriptions of my dream high school.

Here are two excerpts from my novel. Enjoy!”

1.      He looked up at the ceiling, his eyes tracing the acanthus leaf castings clustered in the corners and along the sides. An enormous antique chandelier hung down by thick chains. A ring, covered in intricate patterns, encircled a massive hand-painted globe. The pale colors of the land and surrounding oceans looked subdued like on an antique map. Twenty-four sweeping, rounded arms reached out from the metal ring and curved up and out, ending in elongated candle-shaped electric lights. The sphere rotated lazily, as if imitating the real Earth. X gazed at it, transfixed, wishing it was dark outside and the whole thing would light up like it always did in the evenings.

2.      He shook his head, smiling to himself, and then walked toward the massive double front door. The door was two stories high, set between two flat columns protruding from the walls on both, interior and exterior, sides. A semi-circular intricately-carved arch encased the top of the door.

Y opened the door and stepped outside. He shaded his eyes with his hand and, squinting, looked at the cloudless sky. The door closed with a dull thud behind him, as he started down the wide stone stairs. Strings of green ivy clung to the solid-stone balustrade on both sides of the steps. The stone was aged, its natural color richly variegated. Two huge urns flanked the staircase, their color scheme identical to the balusters.

So, can you see it?  Can you feel it?  Thanks, Angela, for a sneak peek into your novel and giving us a great example of how an author’s mind works.

How do you feel about settings in the novels you read?  Do you like detailed descriptions or minimally-there descriptions?  Everyone’s preferences are different, but then again that is why we have so many types of authors and novels!

I’m Lucky I Came Up For Air When I Did!

So there I was, keeping my head under the social media radar for the last few weeks, focusing solely on my manuscript, Souled, when what do I find waiting for me when I come up for air?  My WANA sista, Angela Orlowski-Peart, awarded me the Lucky 7 Meme!  Just the thing I needed to lighten up the mood around here.

I’ve always loved Angela’s blog because her topics are diverse, light-hearted, and always fascinating.  I’m positive you’ll love the way her personality shines through each word she puts to page.

So here are the rules to the Lucky 7 Meme:

1.  Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2.  Go to line 7.
3.  Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them
as they’re written.
4.  Tag 7 authors.
5.  Let them know.

Simple enough.  I decided to go with the seven-ish paragraphs.   So, here is a look at part of my soon-to-be-released manuscript, Souled:

~ ~ ~

Silence yourself.  Feel, rather than think.

I tried for a couple minutes.  I really did.  In fact, my focus was so intense that I think I’d developed a permanent crease between my brows.  The battering kept up, pelting me with shots of emotion, but finally walls began building up around my mind, blocking out one emotion after another, until there was only one feeling left – elation.  I dropped my hands to my sides and my eyes slowly opened, expectant.  Then my gaze tore through the crowd like a predator sensing its prey.  The source was close.  Very close.

Ah, there it was behind me.  At a cash register stood a boy, 12 years old maybe, his face dominated by a toothy smile.  On the other side of the counter, a clerk slapped a receipt onto a brand new Xbox.

The boy’s scrawny arms wrapped around the box and pulled it off the counter.  He sprinted, the box crowding his arms, and headed straight towards me, his mother trailing behind.  I ignored the woman and instead focused on the boy.

My energy tapped into his and sucked it in like a vacuum.  To me, it felt wondrous and exciting; he didn’t feel the same way.  He looked as though he’d smacked into a wall.  He froze, his eyes latched onto mine, his mouth dropped open, and for a moment his head cocked to one side as if he were reading something he didn’t quite understand.

I smiled.

The boy forced his eyes shut, for a minute covering them with his arm as if the darkness alone wasn’t enoughThen grabbing his mother’s sleeve, still struggling with the box, he ran in the opposite direction.

Ha!  That was freakin’ awesome.

~ ~ ~

There you have it.  Look for the release of Souled this spring!

Who’s next on the list to give us a sneak peak at their upcoming work of art?  I hope you take a moment to check out their blogs as well!

1.  Krystal Wade

2.  Dorothy F. Shaw

3.  Karen McFarland

4.  Johanna Pitcairn

5.  Marion Spicher

6.  Naomi Bulger

7.  Barbara McDowell  

A Few More Deets on Souled…

This has been such a great week for me and I owe it all to my WANA sista, Bridgette Booth!

She helped me pry my fingers off my closely-held WIP and held it up to the light for all to see.

For me, and probably most writers, that’s a big step. After eating, drinking, and sleeping with the characters for many, many moons, the act of talking about the novel in public and acknowledging its upcoming release, makes it all so very real.  Knowing that months of hard work will soon draw to an end is, quite frankly, a little scary.  It is probably similar to watching our children leave home for the first time.  We push them out of the nest, hoping we’ve given them enough love and nurturing to fly on their own.  We’ll still be there for them, cheering them on, but ultimately we have to let them go and move on.

Sadness and elation – two emotions that are creeping up on me as I write this. But, it’s part of the writer’s life, a life I fully embrace.

Today, Bridgette has once again generously opened the door to her blog, this time to ask a few questions about me, my writing, and my upcoming novel, Souled.  Are you ready for some answers?  Then please join me over at Bridgette Booth’s digs for a little conversation.

In the upcoming weeks, be sure to come back, because I’ll be posting excerpts from the novel, interesting information on soul attachments, the making of the book cover  (a huge thank you to Crystalyn Abercrombie, artist and tattoo expert!), and other fun stuff!

Thank you so much for stopping by!