Monday, April 30, 2012

Author Jeremy Beard talks about The Emerald City

What do you get when you cross a smart mouthed Tibetian orphan from Kansas with a spooky boarding school set over a rift of paranormal activity?

We'll let author, historian and free spirit, J. A. Beard tell us.

1) Where did you get the idea for The Emerald City?

I happen to like musicals. A few years back, I was fortunate enough to have the Broadway touring version of Wicked roll into my town. For those unfamiliar with the musical or the book that it's based on, it's a revisionist take on the Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West.

It was a great show and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. After leaving though, I also found myself a bit more interested in Oz in general. I decided I wanted to write a YA book in the setting, an age demographic which is, I suppose, older than the original target audience for the Oz books but younger than the target audience of Wicked. I didn't want to do a straight adaptation. Instead, I liked the idea of more playing with the archetypes in a contemporary setting. Thus, The Emerald City, a sort of Oz-in-a-modern boarding school story, was born.

2) Interesting. I can only imagine. But tell me. You're a man, a husband and a father. How did you come to write in the voice of an adolescent girl?

Well, this is kind of my loose take on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Although my central character is a bit older than Dorothy, an Oz-inspired story still calls for a female lead. I also had in mind a certain arc with the character involving her interactions with others that further all but demanded the main character be an adolescent girl.

3) Any kissing scenes?
The Emerald City isn't a paranormal romance, but, yeah, there is some kissing. 

4) You don't have to tell us, but who in your life did you pattern Gail after?

She's not really patterned after anyone in particular. As you noted above, I'm certainly not a teenage girl, so it's not like she's directly patterned after me. We do share growing up as racial minorities and members of a minority religion in our areas in common, but Gail is a Tibetan-American Buddhist, whereas I grew up a black Baha'i, so even that's pretty different.

Various pieces of Gail are taken from a variety of sources or just made up. It's actually fairly rare for me to explicitly base a character off of someone in my life.

5) I can't help but compare The Emerald City to Harry Potter. I mean, there's the principal, sinister teachers, allies who turn out to be otherwise. Yet others compare it to The Wizard of Oz. What's your opinion?

It's in-between those, I suppose. In Harry Potter, Harry's brought fairly quickly into a  supernatural society that though hidden from the muggles, is otherwise fairly open to those already in the know. In fact, people actively court Harry's attention from early on.

It's not like that for Gail. The magical characters in The Emerald City are explicitly trying to keep magic under wraps even from other characters with magic. Once magic enters the picture more openly, there's very little whimsy. TEC, I suppose, starts out in tone roughly equivalent to something like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Magic, in The Emerald City, comes with incredible responsibility. 

This book is inspired by the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but it isn't a direct copy with updated characters either. You definitely have a girl from Kansas along with her brainless, cowardly, and heartless friends dealing with "witches" and their "winged" allies, but the shift between the old existence and new isn't as dramatic. Gail has to pursue the adventure much more and dig through clues.

6) Describe a scene in your book where you would have liked to be in. Which character would you be?

I can't describe the scenes without spoiling them, but I think I would have liked to have been a character in a scene near the final showdown at the end of the book. Although some very frightening things are going down in those final scenes, there are also some beautiful sensory stuff that accompanies what's going on. I guess I'd want to be Lydia, Gail's roommate, in one of those scenes. Again, I can't really explain why without spoiling things, but let's just say Lydia has some challenges she has to deal with, but they are far less heart-wrenching than what Gal has to go through.

One big aspect that makes the book a lot more like Oz than Potter is the aforementioned principal. Principal Osland is a remote figure that rarely deals with students. Much like the Great and Terrible Oz, she has secrets and hides her true self for a reason. She's most definitely not a mentoring Dumbledore figure.

7) Ha, ha, just don't ask me the same question. Ahem... At least your work is suitable for young adults. Now, what do you like to do when you're not writing?

Spend time with my wife and kids, read, and listen to podcasts (mostly history). Honestly, between work, my family, and writing, I don't have a lot of time for anything else.
8) What is your greatest fear?

Well, on a practical day-to-day level, heights. In a more remote sense, every family man worries about something happening to their family.

9) Any advice for upcoming authors? What is one thing you wish you knew before you began this journey.

Seek objective feedback on your work. Writer's circles and critique groups are great for this sort of thing.

The one thing I wish I knew is how addictive it is. Once you start seriously writing, it pervades your every thought. Depending on one's viewpoint that might either be a good thing or a bad thing.

10) So, what's in the cards? Another young adult paranormal book or some other unique genre?

Well, The Emerald City is the first in a planned trilogy, but my next two books I plan to immediately release are in different genres.

I'm currently editing A Woman of Proper Accomplishments (AWOPA), a slightly alt-history Regency paranormal romance. In AWOPA, the discovery of a magical power called spiritus has subtly changed the world. The Napoleonic Wars are now being fought with the aid of wooden and metal men.  The American Revolution was thwarted.

Most of this doesn't matter to Helena who, like most young middle-class unmarried women in 1811, is concerned with finding a compatible husband. Long fascinated by spiritus, she's excited when Mr. Morgan, a handsome and unmarried spiritus practitioner, comes to visit her home in rural Bedfordshire. When she's attacked in the woods by a mysterious masked man, the evidence begins to point to Mr. Morgan, a most unfortunate turn of events for both her potential safety and her romantic future.

The book started out as me trying to do something vaguely like Jane Austen with magic (not that I could ever match the wit of her work) but ended up more something like Georgette Heyer with magic. 

I recently finished receiving feedback from my writer's group on the manuscript that forms of the basis of my next planned release after AWOPA, a fantasy story about a young telepath mage caught up in a deadly conspiracy by a genocidal cult.

I'm also in the midst of doing research for a thriller set in the Heian era of Japanese history.

Wow, Jeremy, you have some real eclectic interests and a far-flung imagination. I get what you mean about writing being all consuming. Sometimes my characters are more real to me than real life people, if you know what I mean. Well I hope you enjoyed visiting.

Check out The Emerald City at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and stop by Jeremy's blog http://riftwatcher.blogspot.com/. Keep your eye out for that rift!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Secrets From the Dust by George Hamilton

Secrets From The DustSecrets From The Dust by George Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book made me profoundly sad, dealing with an atrocious period in Australian history where native children were stolen from their parents to be forcibly assimilated. The first and last time we see the high spirited Snake-woman-child in her natural self ended with her kidnapping in the first scene.

They named her Margaret, erased her past and tried to transplant her into a world that did not accept her. They stripped her identity, maligned her parents, and replaced her affections to their ways. They told her she was not Koori (or Aborigine), but Southern European.

You'll love Margaret, and root for her, and cheer her on, hoping and praying she'd be rescued, or reunited with her parents, or later on, that she'd succeed in school, or even have a husband and a family to love. You'll fear for her safety, wary always that she be molested by the men around her, then wish she could find a place, any place to fit in. But alas, the author never allows you to relax, and sadly, the story lurches on through cycles of disappointment and rejection to its mysterious ending.

As strong-willed as Margaret was, there came a day when she no longer knew who she was. How many times could she metamorphosize? How many skins could she shed? The author's descriptions of Margaret's surroundings, the natural beauty and harshness of the Australian landscape, evokes your deepest emotions, using sight, sounds, smell, taste and intuition. Haunting and mesmerizing, this is a story you won't forget.

If you read no other book this year, make sure to read Secrets From the Dust. It will change you and make you conscious against suppressing the spirit of life and to be in touch with your true self.

"Will they accept me if I just let them out and be me, whatever that is, because I’m not sure I even know anymore?” -Margaret/Ningali

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seven Sins of Social Networking

1. Me, me, me, me, me!!!
When something good happens to us, we all like to brag a little and get a pat on the back. That's human nature. But as in elementary school, there's always that kid who always does things to draw attention to themselves. Look at my new car, followed by fifty pictures of their car. Look at my new haircut, my shoes, my motorcycle.Oh look, here's my winning bingo board. Okay! Enough already. Being social means sharing and congratulating others, posting about their success and giving someone else a pat on the back. Besides, it's damn hard to pat your own back!

2. Buy my book, pills, seminar tapes
Have you ever met someone at a party and within seconds of introduction, they proceed to pull out their latest multi-level vitamin packet and ask you if you want to go into business? Or the old friend who hasn't seen you in ages, but suddenly is your BEST buddy and comes to your house with a large suitcase of brochures and samples? Same thing happens with social networking. You're all jazzed. That kid who sat behind you in third grade and stuck gum in your hair just friended you. You're like, what's been going on? How's life and they're, "Buy my book, buy my pills, buy my get-rich-quick tapes, buy, buy, buy." You unfriend, unfollow, unlink them. Bye, Bye, Bye.

3. The Snitch
This is the gossip. The one who's always stirring trouble. You can sniff them out a mile away. That ferret way they have of scrunching up their nose, as if something stinks, not knowing the only thing that smells is their own breath. Well, the social networking version is the one who stirs the pot online. You know what so and so just said about you? Oh, remember twenty years ago, and you thought she was your best friend? Well, this is what she really thinks of you. Even worse, this poisonous pill uses the "authorities" to gang up against their enemies, marking all your posts "spam" and reporting you as a "spammer" or a "bot". Whenever I get a private message saying something about someone I figure they're also getting a message about me. Delete and block.

4. Passing viruses
There are good sneezers, of the Seth Godin persuasion, and horridly unhygienic sneezers. Look what someone posted about you, click here. Embarrassing pictures of you, click there. I can't believe it! Free iPhone, click everywhere! Hey kids, don't stick your clicker into every link. You don't know what you'll catch.

5. Promiscuity
Yes, we all want lots of friends and lots of followers. But seriously, if you already have a million followers, what's the chance you'd interact with me, a tiny guppy in the proverbial ocean? Even worse, there are all sorts of hucksters and con artists selling you thousands of friends and followers if you'd just click that link. You know what? I've never clicked that link. See #4.


6. Diarrhea
Here's the guy who thinks every drip from the leaky faucet of his life is of supreme interest to his followers. Hey, look what I found between my teeth. My dog just peed on my laptop, wah!!! I just played Farm, Barn, Swarm, Darnville, please, please, please help me find that gold coin, cow, birdie, ten nails and a tin can. Oh, wow, look at that set of T&A. hey, hey, hey, play with me... tap, tap, tap. Blasting the same message ten times an hour in case you didn't see it. Well, guess what? I didn't see it, because, um.... I've filtered you out.

7. Buttinskis
Everyone's got an uncle. You know the guy, the one who wears the mismatched socks and butts into every conversation with some off the wall comment? Yes, crazy uncles are online too. They're the ones who derail threads, spam other people's blog comments with off topic URLs, and thumb up everything and post remarks like "Cool", "Nice job!", "So funny", without bothering to read the thread: whether it's the death of your pet ferret or the comment about how you hate people who butt in with stupid remarks.

So, are you guilty of any of these sins? What are some of your pet peeves about social networking? Is it okay if everyone's doing it?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Women's Roles in Historical Fiction - Two Reviews of Michal's Window

How can a 21st century woman relate to one born more than thirty centuries ago? How can we understand the limitations of her role in society? How can we empathize with her plight and her will to achieve respect and happiness?

Michal's Window brings us back to ancient Israel, 1000 years before Christ, to a bloody and brutal time where women, even royalty, were merely possessions to be bought and sold as prizes for political gain.

Carol Bodensteiner's blog, Just Walking the Earth, reviews Michal's Window as a book that brings the story of a forgotten woman to life in vivid details -- "a fascinating view of the women who receive only passing mention behind the men in stories we may think we know so well." It reminded her of Anita Diamant's THE RED TENT, another book written from the point of view of a woman whose name is virtually forgotten in the dust of history.

Rebecca Berto's bloc, Novel Girl, portrays Michal's Window as a complex book that made her angry. The limited roles of women and their position in the culture made it difficult for Michal to truly gain the type of life we take for granted. Nevertheless, just like Charlotte Bronte's heroine, JANE EYRE, Michal wrestles a modicum of happiness and acceptance for herself amidst a difficult situation. Rebecca warns us that this is no cliche' romance, so don't expect David to run after her right before her plane takes off. Nevertheless, "Michal's Window is a story unlike anything you’ll read this year."

Check out their reviews here:

What do you think? Do you enjoy historical fiction? Or do you read with a jaundiced eye, glad that you are not walking in their sandals?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Men from the Candy Heart Collection

Men. What goes on in their minds? Especially men who find themselves in an unexpected romance? Did anyone ask them whether they wanted to be the hero, or the loner, or the misunderstood hunk?

Rachelle: Today, authors Lisa Bilbrey, Laura Braley, and Michele Richard make their men squirm with some incisive questioning. So, who's first?

Come on, don't be shy. Laura? What? Chance is still applying hair pomade? Okay... How about Gabe? No?

Ah... thanks Michele. *drags a man by the hand and leads him onto the stage*

Okay, let's start with Michele Richard’s interview with Life’s Unexpected Gift’s Secret Admirer:

Michele: Where did you get your ideas for the gifts you sent?

Man: *Shaking his head and letting out a hearty laugh, he shifts in his seat* Nothing like getting to the hard stuff right away, huh? Okay, well, Emma was a hard nut to crack, that’s for sure, but it ultimately came down to what meant the most to her. She’s little box of secrets and I had to pull them out slowly.

Michele:  Why not just come out and admit your feelings?

Man: Honestly? I was afraid. Emma has this way of looking at me with this underlining hope and expectation. I wanted to be the man she deserved, the man who made her feel as beautiful as she is.

Michele: Knowing what you know now, would you do it all over again?

Man: In a heartbeat. Emma is worth going through it all. As much as I wish I’d had the courage to tell her before how much I loved her, we both had to be ready. She needed to grieve and I needed to hold her.

Rachelle: *sniff* that was touching. So, are you going to tell us your name? No? Well, next time you're in a gift buying mood, I'm NOT a hard nut to crack. Ah, I see Chance from Smoky Rooms is ready. Okay, please, step right up and sit here next to Lisa Brilbrey.


Lisa: What are you thinking about when you’re performing your music?


Chance: The songs I pick tend to fit my mood. The past few years haven’t been good ones. I screwed up – big time – and it cost me a lot. When I sing, I reflect on my life, the choices I made, what I could have done different, what I SHOULD have done different. It’s a melancholy feeling to know that sometimes in life, you can screw up so bad that you can’t go back and fix it, you can only move on and try to be better. When you’ve messed up as bad as I did, it’s hard to believe that you can get a do-over on life.


Lisa: You shut yourself off emotionally from a lot of people. What made you decide to go into Duke’s that first night?


Chance: Honestly? I needed a drink, which is probably the last reason I needed to be there, since booze had helped lead me down my path to ruin. There are a billion clubs in New York City. Duke’s was far enough off the beaten path, I figured I could languish in obscurity there, safe from the media that would have recognized me on sight anywhere else. I didn’t need to be reminded by someone else of my mistakes, I did a good enough job on my own making sure I didn’t forget.


Lisa: What are your hopes and dreams for the future?


Chance: To do life right. I’m being given the cosmic do-over that everyone always wishes for. I want to love someone who loves me back, and make sure that every day, in every way, I’m one hundred percent committed to her and us. I want to keep my priorities straight, and live my dream of being a successful musician, but this time with the wisdom that eluded me the last go-round. And maybe, one day, if I’m really lucky, I can have a family again, one I won’t walk away from when I have my dream, because they are my dream.


Rachelle: Thank God for do-overs and the wisdom to do it right. Okay, our final guest is Gabe from Changes of the Heart with Laura Braley. Please, step up to the mike.


Laura: Gabe, you sat by the window every night. What were you looking for?

Gabe: What was I looking for? I don't know, really. Maybe a sign from God that I hadn't been abandoned after all, that there was still hope for me.

Laura: You mentioned to Juliette’s father that you didn’t want to spend Christmas alone. If you didn’t want to be alone, why did you isolate yourself from everyone?

Gabe: Isolation hurt less. Seeing everyone looking at me with pity in their eyes wore thin on me. I didn't want their pity, I wanted my family back. When Juliette arrived, she looked at me without knowing what had happened. To her I was just a man, granted a man who was less than kind to her in the beginning.

Laura: Why didn't you push harder to get Juliette to listen to you New Years Eve? Might have saved you six weeks of loneliness.

Gabe: Honestly? It stung to see the pain I caused her. Also, she needed to be the one to accept me. Cole's father had returned, as much as I wanted to be his father, he had one already. That’s why she had to be the one to choose.

Rachelle: Very touching. When you've lost everything, to take another chance at love. Thank you Michele, Lisa and Laura for sharing your men's emotional journey with us today. I'd like to rush out and read the book. Where can I get it?

Lisa: Glad you asked. You can find the links to buy Life is More Than Candy Hearts on our website, http://ow.ly/aonC3. Thanks again, Rachelle for having us on your blog.

Rachelle: My pleasure.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One Dance with a Stranger by Mary M. Forbes

One Dance with a StrangerOne Dance with a Stranger by Mary M. Forbes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whoever would have started a romance with a homeless girl sitting in an underpass and a down and out country singer stuck in jail? From such an unpromising situation, Emily and Wade find love despite their wounded hearts. Each must fight the demons of their past to learn to trust and bare their vulnerable souls.

Gripping, emotionally charged story. You'll be rooting for Emily and Wade despite the insinuations of Wade's brother who was bent on destroying their happiness.

Note: the version I read needed editing, but the author is in the process of uploading a corrected version. I can almost say it didn't distract me because the story was so compelling. 4.5 stars

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yet Another Kindle Select Promo Post?

Do we need another Kindle Select Results Post? Most likely not, but since you're on my blog, I'm gonna tell you anyway.

I scheduled my promo for April 15 and 16, probably the two worst days for book downloads, as US Income Tax due date this year is April 17, 2012. However, the WorldLiteraryCafe.com  (WLC) has a FreeForAll Event on the 15th of every month, and I did not want to miss it.

I had heard other authors tell of dismal download results when they went alone, garnering maybe 300-1000 downloads over a two or three day period. Another author said he quadrupled his downloads by joining the WLC Event.

WLC provided a special page directing readers to all the free books of the day, as well as tweet team support around the clock. My book was featured visibly on their home page as part of the banner to click to the FreeForAll page. WLC also provided a hashtag #WLCFreeToday so that readers can search the hashtag and conveniently download all the books listed.

So I plunked down my $10 entry fee and scheduled my free days to coincide with WLC, extending it out a second day to the 16th. Here is a graphical representation of my results:
The red line shows the price at $2.99. Where the red line ends is where I went FREE. A few hours later, around 6:00 am Eastern Time, my rank exploded.

At the end of the first day, April 15, I was at rank 29. By the next morning, my rank rose to 19, and I stayed in the vicinity of 18-20 from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm Eastern time.

This chart shows why you should go two days free. I peaked in ranking in the middle of the second day. Had I ended after one day I would not have experienced my highest ranking 18, where downloads happen at a rate of 100 every 10 minutes.
I ended the day around the same rank as I began. Therefore a third day would have been of diminishing returns. I averaged 5500 downloads per day and ended with almost 11000 downloads. Not bad for Sunday and Monday before Income tax due date.

In an earlier post Publicizing Kindle Select Free Promo, I listed several websites, blog and Facebook pages to notify.

The following four sites were especially helpful for me this go around.

1. EReader News Today
Early Sunday morning, Michal's Window appeared as one of the first books they recommended, and I was off to a great start.
http://ereadernewstoday.com/free-kindle-books-4-free-books-for-4-15-12/6712766/

2. Free Kindle Dude
Josh Cook of Free Kindle Dude notified me the night before that he would post my book and he did.
http://www.freekindledude.com/2012/04/michals-window-free-kindle-book.html

3. Free Kindle Books and Tips
I received an e-mail from Mike Gallagher that he would be posting my book for free and he did, too.
http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/2012/04/15/michals-window-free-from-amazon-kindle-store/

4. The Digital InkSpot
I sent e-mail to their gmail address and the next day, they created a link for my book and tweeted for me throughout the day

http://thedigitalinkspot.blogspot.com/2012/04/michals-window-by-rachelle-ayala.html

Thanks also for my personal friends and members of the WLC Tweet Team who supported me by tweeting and sharing on their blogs and Facebook pages.

Grace Elliot's Guest Spot [this link might expire when another guest replaces me, see the article here.]
Melisa M Hamling - King David Article
Rebecca Berto - Novel Girl - Writer's BFF

A shout out to WLC, Grace Elliot, Melisa Hamling and Rebecca Berto, Facebook Groups: Indie Authors Promo, Great Indie Authors, and WLC Book Marketing & Branding for the tweets, support and cheerleading.

See my Pinterest for further fun: Michal's Scrapbook and Michal's Window Fantasy Cast [not for real]

If you want to join Indie Authors Promo, please click on the link and request membership. Thanks, Rachelle.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway with Mia Darien

New Release Today! Deeper than Skin, by Mia Darien

Mia Darien, published author of the Adelheid Series, is dipping into Historical Romance with the release of Deeper than Skin.

In the deep dark forests of 18th century France resides a mysterious beast. Amidst bloodshed and horror, is love possible?

We’ll let Mia Darien tell us:

What sparked the idea for Deeper than Skin?
It was a two-fold idea. I've always been a geek, and one of my geek hobbies is online writing/role-playing by email or message board. Well, the romance angle of this story was actual inspired by a pair of characters I wrote with someone. The history angle came from a long time fascination with the Beast of Gévaudan after an article I read as a teenager. I'd always wanted to put him in a book, and these two threads just seemed perfect to weave together.

Any reason why you chose this period to write about?
It was all about the Beast. I wanted to write a story with him in it, so that automatically tacked me down to the time and place: Gévaudan, France somewhere between 1764 and 1767.

Who is your favorite character?
Oh, dear. I don't know that I could say! I see Tristan as a quiet type of Alpha male. He tries to play inside the rules of his rank and society, but still do what he feels is right and what his heart tells him to do, and I like that about him. But Constance has a strong inner emotional journey in this story, a very hard road to walk for a woman of her position in that time, and that made me very fond of her.

Seriously, how romantic is it when your friends are being torn up alive by a beast?
Well, in the book, there is a deep divide (as there was historically) between the classes and historical accounts show it was primarily peasants who were being attacked, those who went out to tend animals particularly, while my main characters are in the upper echelons. So, I can't quite say their friends were being torn up alive. But the entire province was afraid. It was three years of bloodshed, but isn't it often in the times when people most fear for their lives that love happens? A person wants to live while they're alive.

Where does the title come from?
Just to remember that beauty is not as simple as what someone looks like. That someone can be beautiful on the outside, but scarred on the inside. Or scarred on the outside and beautiful within.

So true. Do you believe the beast was real? What do you think happened to it?
I got the idea and the information from historical accounts. For those who haven't heard of it and studied its history, I don't want to give away too much from the book because I write the events at the end of those three years in the story. (I do discuss a little about the facts and fiction of my story in an Author's Note after the end of the book.) I can say that there were and are many theories about what the Beast was. Many thought it must be a wolf, since there were a lot of wolves in that area, but that it didn't quite look like a wolf, so some theories thought maybe it was an escaped animal (like a lion or hyena) from a traveling circus/zoo. The Beast did not behave like the "average" wild animal. It tended to avoid men, going for isolated women and children, and showed an aversion to livestock, particularly the largest of them, cows. So there was much to speculate about.

Okay, wow… remind me not to walk in the woods at night. So… tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started as a writer?
I'm not entirely sure how I got started as a writer. I remember writing a few silly little things in elementary school, but it was after I started reading Piers Anthony when I was eleven, moving quickly into Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan and Anne McCaffrey, that by the time I was fourteen, I was trying to write fantasy novels of my own. They were just awful, of course, but it's where it all started.

Plotter or a pantser?
Oh, plotter all the way. I have tried the pants route and it just never works for me. I have to outline my books before I can start writing!

Any authors influenced you growing up?
Very early on, it was the Big Four -- the four I mention above. However, as I grew up, I just read and read and read, and I feel like every book I read influences me in one way or another. They either show me how I want to do it, or show me what not to do.

What's next? Will it be another historical romance?
Nope, next I'm delving back into my paranormal suspense (with a dash of romance) series, Adelheid. The next in the romance line is actual a zombie story/romance. I will be returning to historical fiction in the future, with a Regency and a trip to London during the reign of Jack the Ripper.

A zombie romance and Jack the Ripper? Good stuff. It was great having Mia on Rachelle’s Window. Be sure to click on the Book Cover and check out “Deeper Than Skin” and while you’re there, take a look at her other books, featuring creatures you wouldn’t want to meet next door.

Mia is holding a Giveaway of three (3) copies of her new book, Deeper than Skin. Enter here by leaving a comment, anything, even just "I wanna book!" with your e-mail. Increase your chances by visiting Mia tomorrow for Excerpt Tuesday with Jen Blood (http://www.bloodwrites.com)

You may also contact Mia at her blog, and check out the Interview she did with my character, Michal, who visited Mia from her mansion in the sky.

BUY LINKS for Deeper Than Skin
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/151614
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1110145821?ean=2940014512985
Amazon: http://amzn.com/B007TZM962
Lulu (Print): http://www.lulu.com/shop/mia-darien/deeper-than-skin/paperback/product-20034549.html

Sunday, April 15, 2012

King David, Romantic Hero



King David, Romantic Hero by Rachelle Ayala

If you’re looking for the perfect romantic hero, look no further than King David, the greatest king of Israel. A handsome charmer and yet, inherently good, a man after God’s own heart, David was a man of contradictions, a lover, a criminal, a poet, a warrior.

Why was David, whose name means “beloved”, adored by swooning women everywhere? Let’s examine David’s character from a romantic point of view.

David the Rock Star
It’s 1000 B.C. A handsome young musician tours the King’s Palace with his harp and soon, the entire capitol city is in love with him.

Physical beauty is the hallmark of every romantic hero. Make it a basic requirement. But David wasn’t just looks. He was also the first rock star in history. A cunning player of the harp, his music wooed a princess, and calmed a mad king. He had a large following among the village women as well as the king’s own servants.

But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.

As if being a rock star wasn’t enough, David was also a real hero. When danger threatened the nation, and men of war cowered in their sandals, David defeated the giant Goliath and won the princess’s hand. The people accorded him a hero’s welcome and upstaged their king. “Saul has killed a thousand, David ten thousands.”

David the Rogue
Ah... but every romantic hero needs a flaw, something to further endear him to the reader. After all, who wants to read about Mr. Perfect Dudley Do-Right? And thankfully, David was also a bad boy. Oh yes!

Forced from hero to outlaw by the king’s jealousy, David survived by his wit, grit, and appeal to women. His wife, the princess Michal, loses everything to aid his escape by lying to her father. Another woman, Abigail, literally falls at his feet, defying her husband and giving him food. Not surprisingly, David immediately offers marriage when Abigail’s husband conveniently passes away.

Who doesn’t like their romantic hero with a few rough edges? David, the rogue, swindles the Philistine king out of a city by pretending to kill Israelites. After collecting women like seashells on a tropical beach, David becomes king and tears his first wife, Princess Michal, away from her second husband.

A consummate alpha, David would not take the back seat to anyone. And herein again, is a trait for romantic heroes. Power, lust, and dominance.

David the Romantic
But, deep inside our hearts, we want our romantic heroes to be lovers, to have a soft side, and to become vulnerable to that one special woman. Is this possible with a man like David? A warlord with a burgeoning harem, a king who killed a man to take his wife?

We turn to David’s psalms, the poetry he wrote to God. David was a romantic. He believed in the ultimate triumph of good over evil, and the love of God for a repentant sinner. He writes of his yearning for God in flowery language.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.

David had that winsome spirit, emotional and repentant. He swam in his bed of tears and cried out to God, sorry for his sins. Unable to forget his first love, he brought his princess back even after she had been a wife to another. He comforted his wife when her baby died, and at the end of his life, he told his son, Solomon, to love the wife of his youth.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.



David is the only man in the Bible that is recorded as being loved by a woman. This excerpt from Michal’s Window captures the kindling of that love:

  “So you’re a man of peace. Very good. What about love? Do you wish for love?”
He took my hand and traced my palm with his thumb.
   Oh, my soul. A thrill shot straight to my heart. A lone hawk screeched, banked and crested toward the tip of the disappearing light.
   “Tell me, Michal, have you ever been in love?” He raised my hand to his lips but dropped it without kissing it.
   Crickets serenaded the darkening sky with scratchy chirps, accompanied by the throaty croak of a persistent toad. I trembled, and David wrapped his arms around me. His scent pulsed hot with sandalwood, raking me with a newborn sense of longing. And his hands, oh, so firm, tightened around my waist, and his prayer shawl entangled my fingers, and his body, oh, the press of his body… made me want…

Michal ended up sacrificing her comfortable life as princess, her relationship with her parents, and ultimately David, as she saves him from her father’s wrath and he escapes into the wilderness.

Is David Your Romantic Hero?

Can you resist the magnetism of a man like David? Valiant, yet humble, comely, yet prudent in his manners, a mighty king, but inside, a boy who dreamed great things and loved the LORD God above all. How can any woman resist the sweet psalmist of Israel, the charismatic seducer, the powerful warrior-king? Rock star, Rogue, Romantic. There is a part of David that endears him to any woman’s heart.
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Michal's Window, a novel, imaginatively recreates the love life of this fascinating king.


"RIVETING... a heartwrenching romance deftly evoking challenges between the sexes in Bible times."
- Terry Long, Author of The Notorious Proposal


"Never has a story drew me in and took me to the past, but in a present kind of way, as this one has. We get to walk, run, fear, and most importantly, love as Michal does."
- Melisa Hamling, Author of Twenty Weeks


"The heroine of Michal's Window embodies the heated determination of Outlander's Claire. Coupled with the equally intense hero, David, the sparks fly."
- Taylor West, Reader

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Want Blog Hits? Join me in Triberr

So, what's the big deal about Triberr? First of all, Tribes are hot. Don't take it just from me. Internet marketing guru, Seth Godin, says people, not ads, create social networks. And networks multiply when combined.
So what does Triberr do for you? Simply stated, it is a group of like minded people who band together to read and promote each other's blog posts by retweeting them to their followers.

Let's do the math. I personally have only 1800 twitter followers. But look what happens when I aggregate all the followers of my tribemates. If each of my tribemates share my post, suddenly I can reach almost 280,497 twitter followers.

Before Triberr, I would work on a blog post. Then copy/paste the link into a link shortener, and then tweet it to my 1800 followers. Now, with Triberr, the software automates the collection of blog posts from my blog RSS feeds into the Tribal stream and presents it to all my tribemates in all my tribes.
Each member can either "Approve" the post, in which case it gets sent to the member's twitter stream to be tweeted or, delete the post (red X) if it does not meet the sensibilities of a member's followers. A thumbs up is an extra token of appreciation.

I can come back later and see how many members shared my post and even how many click-throughs happened. My tribe members are still new at this, so the share rate is still pretty low. But getting feedback from the click-throughs alone is invaluable. I can also quickly see how many people thumbed up my post.

Now Triberr does have a currency system called bones. A new user is awarded 100 bones. Because Triberr's owners want to virally extend its reach to new members, I can invite any new member by simply typing in their Twitter ID into the "Invite" button at the top of my page. New member invites are free.

However if someone is already a member of Triberr, i.e. has signed up before, then it will cost me 15 bones to invite this person to join my tribe. Triberr calls this an "inbreeding" invite. Obviously the system is geared toward finding new members rather than poaching existing tribes.

I'm chief of a new tribe called "Indie Author". We are indie authors who blog and wish to share our blog posts. If you're interested in joining my Tribe, post your twitter ID in the comments.

Testimonial:
‎:O someone reblogged last nights blog post :O I've been blogging for over a year and that has never happened to me before, not even with my NaNo posts, and I've had 38 hits already.
This is totally new for me :O
Funny thing. Because of Triberr, suddenly I feel like blogging more. I've got some great members of my tribe who are already avid bloggers. Will you join us? See you in the Stream!

Links:
http://smartboydesigns.com/2011/06/15/how-much-traffic-do-you-get-from-triberr/

http://www.momsbookshelf.com/2012/04/how-triberr-has-helped-my-blog.html

http://just-ask-kim.com/getting-started-with-triberr-com/

http://www.amberrisme.com/2012/03/15/what-is-triberr-a-blogging-weapon-for-little-bloggers/

http://alltriberr.com/how-to-assign-your-twitter-rss-feed-to-your-tribes/

Friday, April 13, 2012

The writing BFF — essential for a writer by Rebecca Berto


Today’s post is a personal one. Many of you may know what the acronym BFF stands for. For those who don’t: Best Friend Forever. I promise I never, ever, use the term because it makes me feel like a thirteen-year-old girl but the meaning is still important.
I separate myself into two categories.
  • I have me. Just me. My normal life.
REBLOGGED from NOVEL GIRL

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Top 3 Reader Expectations from Self Published Authors

Today's readers expect no less from a self published author than from the traditionally published big name author. Whether they spent $1 or $25, readers demand a professional product and an engaging experience.

1. A Good Story to Tell
This is a basic requirement. Why would a reader devote hours to a story that meanders without a goal, populated with one-dimensional characters that speak with the same voice? Your story should move the reader and resonate with his emotions. It should have a structure that pulls the reader along with an interesting plot that follows well established storytelling patterns: a beginning with a hook, a series of escalating try-fail cycles in the middle, followed by a dark moment and a climax, ending with a satisfying resolution. Whether happily-ever-after or tragic, the reader must leave fulfilled by a damn good story.


2. Edited and Polished to a Spitshine
Nothing kicks a reader out of your story faster than tripping over typos, grammatical errors and amateur sentence construction. Do you and your readers a favor. Have your work either professionally edited, or take the time to pore over grammar books and study the levels of editing: structural, content, copy, and proofreading. A few of my pet peeves? Overuse of introductory present participial phrases, autonomous body parts, head-hopping, and misplaced modifiers.

Don't overlook book formatting. Being self-published is no excuse for surprising font changes, crowded line spacing, paragraphs without leading indents, or a shoddy cover that looks like Uncle Bob pulled it together with a child's first paint program.

3. Professionalism
Just because you're a self-published author does not give you license to behave like a kid in the playground. Readers do not expect Stephen King to roll up his sleeves and join in a brawl about a one-star review, nor do they think J.K. Rowling would get her friends to send e-mail defending her decision to kill off Voldemort. Being a published author means being a public figure. And that means taking lumps with grace, shrugging off the vitriol tossed at you in reviews, forums and blogs. True, no one likes to receive criticism, but never respond to a review even if the reader completely misunderstood your book, or confused it with another author's book that is diametrically opposite to yours. Commiserate privately with friends, or fuggedaboutit.

Conclusion
What can you do to beat the expectations of today's savvy reader?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dont' Read This Book - It's Junk! - Zero Star Review

Ahhh!!!! I'm about to take a swandive out Michal's Window!!! It's so-o horrible!!!

Ya know, this is the worst book every written. Michal's Window deserves to be dunked into a forty gallon tub of whiskey BBQ basting sauce and tossed out the window. The heroine(sic?) is a pathetic loser who thinks David is Justin Bieber preincarnated.

David, Grasshopper or Karate Kid, is so wimpy he can't shoot a free throw underhanded. Both of these utterly pathetic returds need to be recycled at the nearest green waste center and all e-copies of the book deleted immediately or risk disk-eating nuclear termination. Believe me, the princess bling only goes so far. She's a horrible kisser and David's fly's down [but don't tell him! hee, hee]

I'd give zero stars if I could. And, no, my name is not pronounced "Faulty", you idiots!!!!!
- Phalti the StudMuffin

APRIL FOOLS!!!