30.12.10

The 80s Strike Again!

Lloyd Dobler - Say Anything
John Bender - The Breakfast Club
Recognize these iconic moments from classic 8os films?  Each and every one of them get a mention in the 2010 film Easy A, which itself is a funny, angsty teen film reminiscent of the John Hughes era. It shows that a film---even one centered on sex---doesn't need to resort to inane, raunchy humor to be hilarious.  
Jake Ryan - Sixteen Candles
Ronald Miller - Can't Buy Me Love
"Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80's movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80's movie ... but no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life."

- Olive Penderghast in Easy A 

So what's your favorite iconic 80s movie moment?   Was it Ferris Bueller singing Danke Schoen on that float? A pantless Tom Cruise in Risky Business? Or perhaps a steel town girl on a Saturday night in Flashdance? How about the big factory scene in Officer and a Gentleman? Ah, so many to choose from... 

23.12.10

Have you SERIOUSLY Not Made Cookies Yet?

Yeah, me neither. So I've got a recipe that requires only three ingredients!  And the best thing is---these shortbread cookies are killer with eggnog. Santa will not be disappointed:

 Brown Sugar Shortbread
Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour


Directions:

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Gradually stir in the flour.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Pat into a 1/3 inch-thick rectangle measuring 11" x 8".   Cut into 2" x 1" strips.  Place 1" apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Prick with a fork.  Bake at 300 degrees (Fahrenheit) for  25 minutes or until bottom begins to brown.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Yield: 3 1/2 dozen.
Enjoy!  And merry, merry Christmas to all of you and yours. ;)

20.12.10

I Got Some Junk in a Box!

I can't believe it, but I've received the first submission to my Junk in a Box competition!  The rules are to design an 80s-themed diorama and e-mail a photo of it to elson.nicki@gmail.com by January 31, 2011. (Now that I've seen people might actually do this, I've extended the deadline to the end of January.) It's that simple. The prizes for the winning diorama are:
  • One Hit Wonders of the 80s CD
  • Signed Copy of Three Daves
  • Your blog & your book (or whatever you want) featured in a post 
Plus, all entries will be invited to be a guest blogger here at Not-So-Deep Thoughts and will get a link to wherever they want on my side bar!   Want to see the new entry?

It's a recreation of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
released in 1980.  
I'm told this is the entrant's first diorama attempt ever.  Nice job! :)  He doesn't have a blog, so I'm linking his diorama image on the sidebar to his excellent Star Wars fanfiction: Such a Quiet Thing to Fall. If you're a Star Wars and/or Hellsing fan, you will love it.

Now...show me your 80s Junk in a Box!
(Could be a fun Christmas Break activity for the kiddos, eh?)   

Time for the Meet an author Monday Blog Hop, including at least one psycho author (who will admit to it) and another who is giddy as they get with her debut novel being released TOMORROW!!!

If you have a book out or impending, please hop on!

16.12.10

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas

Hey, I feel like giving y'all something, and so I'm sharing what is quite possibly the most awesome Christmas playlist ever.  This Lyonaland must be one cool chicka.  The first video is a Christmas card from the characters of The Light Series by Jennifer DeLucy.  And yeah, there just might be some 80s Christmas tunes in the mix too. ;)

Enjoy!


13.12.10

Fifteenth Time's a Charm

Something extremely way cool happened---the alumni magazine from my Alma mater, Eastern Illinois University, did a truly fabulous feature article about my book! I've had a very good response---the biggest since launch---and I've gotten confirmation of something I suspected all along...


















My book was published in February of this year, and pretty much from the get-go I've been out there marketing-wise.  I've done signings and website interviews, gotten articles in local papers, finagled my book onto shelves of local businesses, delved into an e-life, etc. etc. Some efforts have been modestly successful, some not so much, and I've wondered many, many times whether any of it's even worth it.  But during my recent bubble in book sales, people have commented something to the effect of:

"I've been hearing about this book and keep meaning to check it out, but then I saw this article and I have to read it."

So that's it---it might feel like we're spinning our wheels, spending hour upon hour doing things that result in nada, but I'm no longer going to be discouraged by that.  Because maybe the first time you put something out there, crickets chirp, and maybe that even happens the second, third, and fourth time.  But the fifth...the tenth...the fifteenth...?

In other awesome Monday news...I placed in the Top Five of the In Time... blog's  Harry Potter Blogfest!  You can read my entry and find links to other entries below.

And it's Meet an Author Monday!  
Hop around and see what's going on with these fun and fabulous authors. If you have a book published or under contract, hop on!

Omnific Publishing is offering a great opportunity to check out the work of their authors...for FREE!  Throughout the month of December, when you buy a print copy of an Omnific book, you get to choose a FREE e-book!

11.12.10

Harry Potter Blogfest - Bite-Sized Harry Potter Holiday Fictions

Welcome to the Harry Potter Blogfest 
hosted by Michael at the In Time... blog.

My entry is a re-worked scene from my novel-length fanfiction Professor Burbage and the Potions Master.  For me, this blogfest ended up being more an experiment in editing rather than writing---the original scene is 900+ words, but Michael's a very strict professor, and his requirement was 500 words, so I've chopped this baby down to nearly half its original size (525 words).

It wasn't nearly as impossible a task as I at first thought it would be---merely a matter of removing unneccessary dialogue tags, paring back on overly detailed physical descriptions, cutting redundant phrasing, and searching out ways to say things more efficiently.  That's all.  What's amazing is that the scene lost absolutely nothing, but is now a smoother, sleeker version of its original self.  Editing rocks.  Thanks for making me challenge myself, Michael.


Professor Elson and the Potions Master

"What is it you need, Professor Elson?" Snape asked as the substitute Muggle Studies teacher clunked a heavy box onto his desk.

"I’m having trouble with a few simple potions," she explained, pulling small corked bottles from the box. Each contained a muddy brown liquid.

"Perhaps you should enroll in my class next term," he said flatly.

"Ha ha. These potions are fine—they do exactly what they're supposed to do, but I was hoping you'd show me how to make them more attractive."

"Attractive?"

"Yes. I was thinking of various shades of green and gold."

"Why on Earth would you want to do that?"

"I'm giving them as Christmas gifts, and as you know, presentation is everything."


Snape responded with a look that seemed to indicate he very much wanted to hurl her out one of his windows. Lucky for Nicki, he had none down in the dungeon.

Taking a more practical tone, she added, "I've tried changing the appearance myself, but every time I add a new element, the effect of the potion changes."

"Potions 101, Professor Elson. Are you sure you don't want to sign up for my class?"

"Well, aren't you the cheeky one? Honestly, Severus. You act as if I don't know the difference between wolfsbane and monkshood."

"There is no diff—" Snape started, but he stopped short when he saw Elson's playful smile.

"Oh please, Severus! You're the expert. Will you please, please just show me how?" Whether it was her batting eyelashes that did it or the fact that he wanted her far away from him as soon as possible, she didn't know, but Snape finally agreed to help her.

As he selected various jars and tubes from the shelves of his store cupboard, Nicki asked, "Would these potions have the same effect on Muggles as they do on wizards and witches?"

Snape poked his hooked nose out of the cupboard. "Professor Elson, you're not planning on giving these potions to Muggles, are you?"

She laughed lightly and said, "Oh, heavens no. These are for my students."

"Students?" Snape shot her an appalled glare before he returned to rifling through his shelves.

"I wonder though,” Nicki pressed on, “what would be so terrible if the potions did find themselves in Muggle hands? This one’s just a harmless mix to add sparkle to the girls' hair."

Snape returned to his desk with an armful of ingredients. "The harm would be that the magical world would be exposed if Muggles were suddenly sparkling all around town."

"Oh, I know. I'm thinking more philosophically. Think about it—if potions have the same effect on Muggles as they do on us, then this can be the great unifying factor! The one branch of magic that Muggles and wizards can share in equally."

Snape's forehead creased between his sheets of black hair. He didn't seem to like the idea, but he didn't argue her point either. Instead, he set immediately to work and huffed, "It's getting late, and I'm sure you'd like to get your beauty sleep before class tomorrow." After a brief pause, he added dryly, "Presentation is everything, you know."


Hope you enjoyed! 

Click on the Harry Potter Blogfest icon or here to indulge in more bite-sized Harry Potter holiday stories.

2.12.10

It's a Harry Potter Winter Wonderland

Michael at the In Time... blog is hosting a Harry Potter blogfest on December 11.  To join, write a 500 word scene with any of the HP characters from any of the seven books. It could be anything you want. Funny, magical, serious, etc. And for an added twist, it should be set during Christmas or Thanksgiving  

Sign up here: Harry Potter Blogfest

 And for more wintertime fun, Night Owl Reviews is hosting a Winter Wonderland Web Hunt until January 15.  Search author websites for clues and win tons of prizes, including signed books and gift certificates.  


29.11.10

Meet an Author Monday

On November 18, I was lucky to be able to attend a signing even for Susan Kaye Quinn, author of YA novel, Life, Liberty, and Pursuit.   Susan had obviously done her promotions right---even managing to land a well-timed feature article in a local paper---because the coffee shop was packed!

This was an informal meet-and-greet at a small coffee shop, and Susan did a fantastic job generating interest in her book.  Within only a few conversational sentences, she let patrons know the premise of the book (falling in love and the hard choices we have to make), the audience that would most enjoy it (all lovers of romance, in particular teenage girls, but there's something in it for the boys too), and also let them in on some of her current projects (middle grade science/adventure geared toward boys---sounds fun!).

People were excited not only to get a book for themselves, but also for the young adult readers in their lives. Susan obviously has a passion for the story and her writing, and it was fun to watch her enthusiasm transfer to others. Congratulations, Susan!

Speaking of enthusiastic writers...
It's time for the Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop.  Visit author blogs to see how they're faring in the midst of Nano, the holiday rush, and other treacherous events.  And if you're a published author---hop on!


23.11.10

Meet Jess Bowen, Author of Breaking Point

 I am ecstatic to announce the release of the first book in 
The Order of the Elements series:

by Jess Bowen

 I adore this story and am already anxiously awaiting the sequel.  This is one of those Young Adult novels that both teens and adults will enjoy.  At first I became swept away in the magical world that Jess Bowen created, and then I got completely carried away in the romantic relationships as they developed. But the story never forgets its purpose---the fight against the darkness. And I now realize  that I forgot to ask Jess about her amazing action scenes!  Urg.  Ah well, I'll just have to bring her back, won't I?  Here's the back cover blurb, followed by my delightful interview with Jess Bowen.

Phoebe Johnson and Ethan Smith had everything they needed: loving parents, great friends, and admission letters to Ivy League schools they’d be heading to in the fall. If only they knew that they were never going to reach the end of that summer--at least, not in the world they knew. A secret waits to be revealed on the eve of their nineteenth birthday, a secret that is going to change their lives forever when it leads them to a place they never believed existed, love they could never imagine living without, and power they never suspected they possessed


Jess Bowen expertly plunges readers into an imaginative, supernatural world that refuses to bow down to the darkness that’s all but taken over. Amidst this adventurous quest for a lost prophecy, Bowen weaves in powerful tales of love that will leave the characters and readers breathless.

1. The world you created in Breaking Point is amazingly vivid, both the shining perfection inside the Haven and the bleak darkness outside.  Is the end result exactly what you had pictured when you began writing, or did it evolve over time?

Phew, start off with a hard question why don’t you? Just kidding. To sum it up, I guess it really did turn out the way I had wanted it to when I started writing. I kind of wanted these characters that had what most of us would consider a good life to be thrown into this pit of despair. The Haven is perfect, but in its perfection it’s a prison.

I think the concept of it being a prison evolved over time. Once I realized more and more how perfect it was inside, I had to reach deeper into what was going on to figure out why these people were fighting so hard for their freedom back when they were perfectly free in these safe places where they lived. Why would they face this war if they could just continue to live in their little Utopia? More and more the realization of their predicament became clear---they’d take a little hardship if it meant being able to step outside their ivory walls. In the beginning I had always wanted this to be an emotional battle for these characters as well as a physical one, and I think it’s turned out to be everything I wanted it to be.


2.  A very fun element in the book is the Companion, a (darling) magical creature, that each student receives upon beginning their training.  What was your criteria for choosing the companion for each character, and if you were to be assigned a companion, what would it be? 


Ah yes, the companions. I do love them. Of course my biggest criteria for assigning a Companion to a Master is that Masters of Elements have a more mythical creature as a Companion. Even though each Companion has its own magic, I wanted that extra special quality because the Masters of Elements are kind of a big deal. But, just like in the Pool of Companions, the Companions kind of choose their Masters. As for me, I’m rather fond of Bree and Sadi…but I couldn’t steal them from Evan and Jared. I’d probably take a big cat, maybe a panther.


3.  Despite the fact that Phoebe, Ethan, and their roommates all possess supernatural gifts and are living in a surreal world under unimaginable pressures, they feel like authentic young adults. You do a fantastic job of showing all of their sides, and the reader really gets to know each of them throughout the course of the story.  I know this is probably a tough question---because you obviously got close to each of your characters---but which one would you say was your favorite to write and why?

Wow, yes, most definitely a tough one. I really love writing Evan’s ever positive attitude and sense of innocence and simple logic. I also love writing Hector with his inability to feel emotions. You can never tell what he’s thinking or how he feels about something.  He sees a lot of things that many wouldn’t because his own emotions don’t cloud how he sees them. Much like Phoebe, he sees the truth in people because he sees with an unbiased opinion. And, I know you said just one, so my most favorite is probably Phoebe. With her gift, her complicated mental battles alone are so in depth and fun to explore.  She just always has so much going on, and sometimes I find myself having a hard time breaking away from writing what’s going on in her head to write what’s going on around her too.

At one point in my college career I was a psychology major. The human mind is something I find very fascinating, the way people think, what makes them tick, what makes them do the things that they do, etc. So Phoebe opens up this opportunity not to only delve into her emotional and private struggles but it also opens up the doors to the secrets of everyone around her, and that’s really fun for me to explore and write.


4.  Breaking Point is the first book in a series of five (hooray!) and even though Breaking Point is a whole and complete story on its own, you most definitely laid some intriguing groundwork for future plot developments.  Without giving away any spoilers, of course, how much of the rest of the series do you have worked out in your head?  Do you know what will be happening in each book?  Do you know exactly how the series is going to end?

I have most of the plot worked out for future books. The plot as it follows the war to the end has not changed, although the personal struggles of each character sometimes changes as I write. But it all leads to the endgame. I have a summary and basic outline for each book and a tagline to go with each book according to what’s going to happen in it. And I actually have the end of the last book already written---which I’m sure will need to be tweaked and adjusted by the time I catch up to it in my writing---but I most definitely have a plan, and I can’t wait to get it all out so everyone can know!

I’m really looking forward to the sequels. One of my personal favorite things about reading sequels in book series’ I enjoy reading are the plot twists you don’t see coming, and the characters that come and go. I hope with the Order of the Elements Series I can bring all those elements to the table with the future books.


5.  If you had to choose one song that captures the essence of Breaking Point, what would it be?

One song? You’re asking the Queen of Indecision and Music lover Extraordinaire to pick one song? Okay, okay…I can do this. Well, several months ago on my blog I posted a youtube link to "Break" by Three Days Grace and noted that it fits really well with the theme of the book, and I still stand by that. The song is about someone who’s unhappy with the way things are in his life and gives the message that if you don’t like something, break away and do something about it. It kind of alludes to anger that sparks a decision to change and fight for something better.

That being said, I've compiled a playlist that fits with the book and its themes, because as stated above…I am both the Queen of Indecision and Music Lover Extraordinaire and picking just one song period is a nearly impossible task for me.


Thanks Jess!

19.11.10

First Gifts Blog Fest


Hey, Liz Fichera and The Mojito Literary Society have started a really fun hop called First Gifts Blog Fest, in which bloggers tell their stories about first gifts received from a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, life partner, or whoever.  (I went heavy on the whoever...as a matter of fact, I may have added that category all by myself.)  If you've got a first gift story to tell, please hop on!  This fest goes through Sunday, November 21.   

This post was supposed to go in a whole 'nother direction, but yesterday's mail changed all that.  It starts with a gift I bought for my son...that turned into a gift for me.

Baby boy turned thirteen this past Sunday, so I went to Best Buy last week and bought him the M-rated new release, Call of Duty: Black Ops.  But my parenting skills are not the point. The point is that the check-out girl offered me a free six-month subscription to People magazine.  I figured what the heck and took it.

Yesterday my first issue arrived.

It's the sexiest man alive issue. 
*eyebrows* *eyebrows* *eyebrows*



I'll admit I'm not overly thrilled with the top pick, but the whole issue is full of men!  Attractive, funny, charming men! It had been a long time since I'd shut my brain off for a few minutes and flipped through a magazine, but I'm so glad I did. The highlight for me was a surprise peek at Nathan Fillion's man cave, but really, the whole experience was pretty damned enjoyable. Thanks Best Buy girl.

My only complaint is that the movie star I was most hoping to see all sexy-like only got a 1" x 2 1/2"scrap of a page!  I'm speaking of Chris Pine from the 2009 Star Trek movie and future star of Alex J. Cavenaugh's CassaStar.   I mean, even Rupert Grint got a bigger piece of real estate, for Merlin's sake.  Don't worry, Chris baby, you can take up space on my blog any time. ;)


9.11.10

Have you seen "Scott Pilgrim Versus the World"?

It just came out on DVD today, and it is fa-bu-lous.  So original and funny and violent and sweet with fantastic special effects and superb acting. I've gotta say, the premis didn't appeal to me at all; I only watched it for my son, but premis, schmemis, it was great!  And the movie doesn't have a chauvinistic bone in its, urm, celluloid---the girls get their faces punched in every bit as much as the guys.  (It even kind of, sort of ties in with this blog as it features Anna Kendrick, my pick to play Jen in the Three Daves movie.)  

This is one case where the trailer doesn't do the film justice, but here it is anyhow. I'm sure it does a better job than my gushing: 



Do yourself a favor and rent "Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, ney, buy it. It's bound to be a cult classic.

8.11.10

Meet an Author Monday!

It's Monday, time to see what's up with new-to-you authors as well as those you've already gotten to know through this wonderful weekly hop by Lisa Sanchez, Cali Cheer Mom. If you're a published author or have a contract for a book, please join the hop!  We'd love to have you.  

This Monday just so happens to be the birthday of up-and-coming author, Killian McRae, whose debut novel, 12.21.12 will be released next month. Happy Birthday, Killian!!!

Please be sure to check out my 100 Follower Contest below.


Junk in a Box Competition


Well, it happened. Thanks to all of you...
I hit a triple-digit follower Trifecta!
100!!!
And so, I introduce my 100 follower
Junk in a Box Competition

Not this kind of junk in a box.
Minds out of the gutter now, 
I'm talking about dioramas!

There is only one qualification to enter, and that is that you follow me on either Blogger, Twitter, or Facebook.


Didn't see that one coming, did you?  The idea hatched as I watched my daughter build this stellar *award winning* Peter and the Starcatchers diorama for the local library. I had the same thought that got me into this writing thing to begin with: Why not?

Do you remember these from grade school?  If not, here's a definition:

diorama (ˌdaɪəˈrɑːmə)
 a miniature three-dimensional scene in which models of figures are seen against a background 

THE THEME

The Awesome 80s

THE RULES

Create an 80s-themed diorama and e-mail a photo of it to elson.nicki@gmail.com by January 31, 2011.  Entries will be judged based on overall appearance and how well they capture the theme. And think about this---what are the chances anyone else will actually enter?  So, all you have to do is stick  your junk in a box and the prize is practically yours! 
THE PRIZE
  • One Hit Wonders of the 80s CD
  • Signed Copy of Three Daves
  • Your blog & your book (or whatever you want) featured in a post

PERK FOR ALL ENTRIES

I know this contest requires more work than most, so I'm also offering a perk for each entry.  Everyone who sends me a photo of their 80s-themed diorama will be invited to be a guest blogger here at Not-So-Deep Thoughts. Blog to my 100+ followers on whatever your heart desires!  Also, I'll post the image of your entry along with a link to your blog/Facebook page/Twitter account/website (your choice)  on my side bar.

BONUS POINTS
 
Because I harbor a persistent and burning desire to make things more complicated than they need to be, on the off chance that there's more than one entry and I have a tough time deciding on a winner, I'll use the following points system to break any ties:
  • Follow me on more than one media (1 point for each)
  • Comment on my Blogger or Facebook posts (2 points each)
  • "Like" my Facebook posts or re-Tweet my Twitter posts (3 points each)
  • Promote this here contest at your blog/Facebook/Twitter (4 points each - please give me a heads up on this one if you do it) 
Now get out there, you crazy kids, and get your diorama on!




1.11.10

Blogger Vacation

Yo.  I'm immersed in an editing project this week and so must step away from the blog for a bit.  But I'll be back hopping around next week to see what's up with y'all, and I plan to return with a  
big fat contest!

In the meantime, the authors below are available to play---if you are an author with a book out or one under contract, please join!  And if you're looking for a writing challenge, you may want to check out Tessa's Out of my Box Blogontest, which will be open until December 5. Have a great week!



31.10.10

Icky Part Three

A continuation of my contribution to the
Outside My Box Blog Hop at Tessa's Blurb
(You have until Dec 5 to join!)

Link to Part One

Link to Part Two


An Icky Valentine's Day
Part Three

Danny was hauled off to the principal's office, and ten minutes later they came for Icky.  She stepped into the principal’s office just as he finished saying, “…one more infraction of the rules and there will be serious consequences, Mr. Eldridge.”  He looked up and saw Icky walking in.  “Good afternoon, Miss Karp.  Mr. Eldridge has something he’d like to say to you.”
           
Danny looked up from his hands, his face was flushed, and mumbled, “I’m sorry that I flattened you on the equipment and invaded your personal space.”
           
“Ahem,” the principal prodded.
           
“It won’t happen again,” Danny added. 
           
Icky nodded her indifferent acceptance of the apology.
       
 “Very nice,” the principal commented.  “Now, Miss Karp, Mr. Eldridge tells me an interesting story about water-solvable—I assume he means soluble—poisons.  Why is it that he would suspect that you poisoned his juice box?”
           
“I suppose because I was telling him about thallium sulphate earlier and then at lunch I discovered that someone had switched his juice bag.  I suppose he thought that I was the one who did it.”
       
 “Miss Karp, did you switch his juice bag?” the principal asked.
           
“Yes,” Icky answered.
       
The principal’s eyebrows went up in surprise at this admission.  “Did…did you poison his juice?” he seemed compelled to ask.
           
“I’m just a child, sir.  How would I get a hold of thallium sulphate?”
           
“I’m sure that I don’t know how you’ve ever even heard of thallium sulphate, but please answer the question.”
           
“I did not poison his juice, sir.”
           
The principal smiled and nearly let out a laugh.  That was surely a statement he’d never expected to hear in his elementary school office.  As he was rising from his chair to dismiss her, Icky spoke again.
       
“If I were going to poison someone, I’d be more likely to use ricin.”
           
The principal dropped back into his chair and gaped at her.
           
“Also a slow-acting poison,” Icky explained. “It’d be several hours before the victim showed any signs—trouble breathing, dehydration.  It’s from the beans of a castor plant, a common ornamental in the United States, so very easy to get your hands on.  And it can be made into a powder and sprinkled on food…or candies.”
           
A glint of concern crept into the principal’s features.
           
“Oh, don’t worry.  It tastes really bad, so it would have to be sprinkled on in very small amounts to be undetectable.  Someone would have to eat approximately ten packs of Smarties all at once for it to be lethal.”  Icky heard Danny shift suddenly in his chair next to her.  Before he said anything, she added, “Stealing is a serious infraction of the rules, isn’t it, sir?”
           
“I...uh...ehrm, yes, yes it is, Miss Karp,” the principal said, seemingly confused at the unconnected statements.  Not another sound came from Danny’s direction.
           
Icky stayed silent and stared at the principal in her dubious fashion.  He sighed and gave his head a quick shake, as if that would help things make sense.   Then he laid both of his hands on the desk and leaned forward.  It was the position he took when he meant business. 
           
“I’m going to send you back to class now, Miss Karp.  As his punishment, Mr. Eldridge will be staying with me for the duration of the party.  Now, there is to be no more talk of poison in this school—is that understood?”
           
“That will require a revision to the fifth grade science curriculum.  Would you like me to inform the teachers?” Icky responded.
           
“I’ll speak with the teachers,” the principal assured her.
           
“You may also want to talk with the custodians,” Icky suggested.  “I suspect they’ve got all manner of potentially lethal chemicals in their closet.”
           
“I’ll take care of it, Miss Karp,” the principal said, his smile tightening as he grinded his back teeth.  “Now run along to that party.”
           
Icky ran along and the party passed without incident.  She consumed four glasses of punch and seven cupcakes, but thought it best to avoid the Valentines candies brought in by the other students.  You never knew what kinds of plants might have grown in their parents’ gardens.  Before all the sugar and flour had begun to digest, the school bell rang and the children were dismissed for the day.
           
Alone in her seat on the bus, Icky looked out the window.  She’d not seen Danny again after the meeting in the principal’s office.  He had perhaps complained of a stomach ache by now and his mother had picked him up from school.

When he got home, he’d have trouble catching his breath and would feel very thirsty.  He’d tell his parents that he was becoming dehydrated and would make all kinds of accusations concerning Icky, but they’d likely heard him say so many outrageous things about the strange girl over the years that they wouldn’t pay him much mind.  They’d probably make him go to bed early, tired of listening to his gibberish and thinking that he might be coming down with the flu or something.

Danny would lay in bed very frightened.  He might even cry himself to sleep.  And then…
           
He’d wake up the next morning and realize that he was still alive, and that he didn’t feel any worse, and that Icky hadn’t poisoned him, after all.  After that, one of three things would happen: he’d either be so happy to be alive that he’d repent for all his wrongdoings and become a nicer person, or he’d shrug it off and forget the whole thing instantly, or—and this was the most likely—he’d return to school and retaliate. 
           
It didn’t make much difference to Icky what Danny did.  In her unconventional mind, she’d avenged her Poindexter, and that was all that mattered.  Yes, justice had been wrought at St. Ingnatius Elementary on this fine Valentine’s Day, and Isadora Cuthbert Karp was a hero to heroes, an intellectual mastermind, and in the end, a true humanitarian. 
           
But she was still weird.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

27.10.10

Retro Recap - EIU Book Signing

It had been over a decade since I'd set foot on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. I'd been excited about the trip, but I hadn't realized how good it would feel to be back there.  I spent less than ten percent of my earthly existence there, but somehow EIU still feels like home.
 
We re-visited several "scenes" from Three Daves, and I wonder---how is it that when I'm so forgetful in my everyday life (seriously, where are my car keys?), I'd somehow recalled all of those places in such vivid detail when recreating them in the story?  They were exactly as I'd remembered, right down to the loud and truly horrible punk band in the warehouse-like setting. It was awesome. :)  


And it's a good thing the nostalgia was well worth the trip in itself, because the book sales...not so much.  The demographic at the golf outing where I'd arranged my signing wasn't what I was expecting, and although we had fun and did what we could to chat people up about the book, at some point I had to accept that they just weren't that into me. But hey, a few people bought copies and everyone went home with a postcard, so more seeds sown, right?  And we found more than enough enthusiasm for Three Daves out at the bars later that night and on campus the next morning to make me happy.  We'll see where it leads.

A few quick ideas for anyone planning a signing 
(Some of these I did, some I wish I'd done):

  • If there's an opportunity to get informational postcards to your audience ahead of time, do it.
  • Have your book trailer playing on your laptop (thanks for the tip Alison).
  • Set up easily visible signage to explain why you and your book are relevant to the event.
  • Bring along a fun and encouraging posse. (Thanks guys!)   
  • Tell me about your event so I can put it on my side-bar!

      25.10.10

      Whisper of Light - Sneak Peek!

      Just in time for Halloween, tomorrow is the release of paranormal romance, Whisper of Light, second in The Light Series by Jennifer DeLucy.  One of the best perks of being a Developmental Editor is that I get to read great stories like this before they are released.

      Here's a peek at the back cover blurb (it's all true):

      Jennifer DeLucy again plunges us into the world of lingering spirits, dark apparitions, and malicious vampires. But this time she takes us to the California coast where we get to know a new ensemble of gifted souls that are just as vibrant and endearing as the Sentients we came to love in Seers of Light.  In Whisper of Light, DeLucy delivers exciting supernatural encounters as well as very human interactions that will both break your heart and make it soar.   


      Jennifer graciously indulged me by answering questions about some of my favorite aspects of the book:


      1. While staying consistent with the themes set forth in Seers of Light, you did a fantastic job of giving Whisper of Light its own distinct flavor. One of the first tastes is the setting—you take us from out east all the way to the California coast. Was it difficult for you to adjust to this new and very different setting? What kinds of things did you do to help yourself make the mental switch?

      More easily than you'd think. For one, I've always wanted to live by the ocean, and this book was as close to doing so as I've gotten so far! I looked at photographic and video gems, read government tourism info and climate guides, and did a lot of fact research on the area as I went along so that I could get a real feel for the redwood coast. It's always such an amazing, magical thing to get to experience a new place, and writing a book is one way to kind of do that. In fact, I'm moving to Washington state soon, and one of the things I most look forward to is taking a trip south to see the redwoods with my own eyes. I'm sure I'll be blown away.


      2. In Whisper of Light we meet a whole new houseful of Sentients who are every bit as unique and engaging as the group we met in Seers. I enjoyed them all (but Gilford Boyd is the one who ran away with my heart), and I’m wondering—which member of the Pacific Northwest Sentients was the most fun for you to write?

      You know--I did love Gil, the little nerd. He was definitely fun to write. But when I really think about this question, the answer is Nicole--which may seem odd, since she's got a really angst filled story line, but the way she handles it, her inner dialogue, her self-deprecation just makes me laugh. She doesn't take her emo life so seriously that she can't make fun of herself, which I enjoyed writing.


      3. Music plays a huge part in this story, and the scenes where Nicole is swept away in her piano playing were some of the most powerful I’ve ever read—not just in your stories, but anywhere. You are a lifelong musician and lover of music as well as a gifted writer, so what was it like to combine your passions and translate music into words?

      It was like a sigh of relief! I got to really put some of myself into this character in that way, and it was a very emotional thing for me--and something that felt natural. People don't realize how vital music is to not only enjoying life but inspiring life, inspiring change and goodness, and it's second nature for me to express that on paper. In fact, it was easier to write about that than anything else.


      4. So, after the story is written, polished, submitted, and accepted by the publisher, what is your favorite part of the publication process and why?

      Oh, there are so many aspects that I enjoy. Heck, I really love the whole process, from working with a designer on the cover to editing the manuscript... especially editing the manuscript, because I am always so moved by the way that a devoted editor can take your story and make you rise to a new level with it. I don't imagine any book would be as finally good or complete without the insight of their editor. That process touches me.


      5. And now I think you probably know what I’m going to ask: you once again wrote your own magnificent composition for the book trailer; however, supposing you weren’t such a superior mortal and had to select one song of someone else’s invention that captures the essence of Whisper of Light, what would it be?

      First of all, I love you. Secondly, I'd choose Sara Bareilles - The Light.

       

      Love ya too, Jen. ;)

      Whisper of Light can be purchased at  
      Omnific Publishing and Amazon Kindle 
      starting tomorrow, October 26, 2010

      (Looking for the Blog Hop?  Is below.)

      Do You Have a Signing Event Coming Up?

      I've added a new feature on my sidebar where I list upcoming book signings for any of my 100 gorgeous Blogger followers.  So please tell me if you have a signing event scheduled and I'll add the date to my list with a link to your blog or website!  Lisa Sanchez has one tomorrow in Tracy, CA.  Have fun, Lisa!      

      That's right, you heard me---I have 100 Blogger followers AND 100 Facebook followers! (Thanks Mia and George for getting me there.) Only two more to go on Twitter before I unleash my Trifecta Contest.
      I had a signing event of my own over the weekend; I'll get pictures loaded and ready to share with you on Wednesday. 

      And...Meet an Author Monday is here once again.  Please stop by and visit any of the lovely authors below to see what wisdom they can impart upon your day.  And don't miss my upcoming interview with Jennifer DeLucy about her brand spanking new novel, Whisper of Light to be released tomorrow!

      If you are a published author and join our hop, please paste the blog hop icon and code in your post so readers can keep hopping.

      24.10.10

      Icky Part Two

      A continuation of my contribution to Outside My Box Blogontest at Tessa's Blurb.
      Read Part One

      An Icky Valentine's Day
      Part Two

      The bus pulled up and soon all the students were sitting in the classroom, listening to their teachers. 
                 
      “There are actually three Saint Valentines, all of whom are said to have been martyred on February 14,” Icky’s teacher informed the class. 
                 
      Icky’s hand shot in the air.  Her teacher pressed her lips together and seemed to take a calming inhale before forcing out a stiff, “Yes, Isadora?”
                 
      “Did any of them die from poisoning?” Icky asked flatly.
          
      The teacher raised her eyebrows in slight surprise.  The question was certainly odd, but not nearly as odd as some of the things Icky came up with.  “Hm, that’s actually an interesting question,” the teacher responded. “You see, not much is known of any of the three Valentines, so we don’t know exactly how or why it is that they died.  As a matter of fact, it’s because of this questionable history that the feast of Saint Valentine was removed from the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar in 1969.”  
           
       Icky dug in her pocket and pulled out a fistful of small brown pellets.  She held them up and opened up her fist so the class could see the tiny ridged cylinders lying flat on her pudgy palm.  “Crinoid fossils,” she announced and left the random statement at that.
                 
      Ah yes, this was more in line with Icky’s eccentric style.
                 
      “They look more like rat turds,” Kevin murmured under his breath and Danny snickered.
                 
      “Also known as St. Cuthbert’s beads, also thought to protect from poisoning,” Icky continued, staring forward at her teacher. 
                 
      Her teacher smiled that patient smile of hers—the one that had gotten Icky assigned to her classroom in the first place—and said, “Thank you, Ic-…sadora.  Well, class, it’s now time to go to the library, but we’ll be passing out Valentines before lunch, so why don’t you get them out of your backpacks and put them on your desk.”
           
       Icky dutifully went to her backpack and pulled out her paper shopping bag.  In it were the puppy and kitten Valentines from the previous year, and taped to each was a loosely wrapped roll of Smarties.  She set the bag very purposefully next to her desk, which was directly in front of Danny’s, and left it wide open. 
                 
      The students lined up and went as a group to the library, but were free to drift back to the classroom once they’d selected their books for quiet reading time.  Icky lingered in the library for a long while, even though the book she’d be reading that day wasn’t one you could find in an elementary school library.
           
       Icky eventually returned to the classroom and went to her desk to retrieve her book.  When she did, she looked down into her bag of Valentines and saw that several of the Smarties candies had been removed.  At least half of them.  She looked back at Danny’s desk and saw telltale cellophane wrappers crumpled underneath.  Without any reaction whatsoever to the theft, Icky picked up her book and went to a corner of the classroom to sit on the floor and read. 
                 
      It wasn’t long before Danny exhausted his miniscule attention span and his eyes wandered the classroom, looking for something new to entertain him.  Icky was usually a good place to start, and today he hit the mother lode.  In front of her unkempt head was an almost life-sized image of Saddam Hussein’s face, positioned so that it appeared to sit on her shoulders.  Across Hussein’s forehead were the words: The Man and His Methods

      Such books weren’t generally encouraged at the school, but arguing with Icky about her reading material and consequently going head to head with her permissive father were exercises in futility, and so long as Icky’s book kept her quiet for forty-five minutes a day, her teacher allowed it. 
                 
      Danny elbowed Kevin in the ribs.  “Looks like we’ve got an evil Icktator in our classroom, heh, heh.”  He maneuvered closer to Icky and wadded up a piece of paper and threw it over the top of her book so that it bonked her in the forehead.  She lowered the book so that her impassive eyes peered over the edge at him.  “Interesting book?” he sneered.
                 
      “Yes,” she answered and began to raise the book again.
           
       “Did you get to the part yet where they caught him living in a rat hole and they beheaded him?” Danny pressed on in a nasty whisper. 
           
      Icky lowered the book further this time and whispered a considerably longer response. “No.  I’m at the part where he poisons his colleagues with thallium sulphate.  It was his poison of choice, because it’s slow acting; the symptoms often don’t kick in until the next day, so nothing can be proven. 

      "At first it feels like the flu, but then, before the doctors can figure out what’s going on, all of the victims’ hair falls out, and then they are wracked with hideous joint and flesh pain.  The patients lie screaming and thrashing, but there’s nothing anyone can do to help, because they don’t know what’s happening.  Eventually, the victims will suffer paralysis and respiratory failure.

      "They’ll try to get a gasp of breath, but their lungs won’t function, so they slowly suffocate, lying in a bed surrounded by loved ones who can do nothing but watch them suffer and die.”
           
       Danny and Kevin sat gape-mouthed at the coldness with which Icky delivered the analysis.  But then she smiled and a sparkle danced across her typically doleful eyes.
                 
      “The best part is—thallium sulphate is completely water soluble, like salt, but it’s colorless, odorless and virtually tasteless, so it can be mixed into any drink, and the victims have no idea they’ve ingested anything malicious until it’s far too late.  By the time anyone suspects poisoning, the nervous system is well on its way to shutting down.”      
                 
      Danny gulped, trying to restore moisture to his mouth, and then whispered hoarsely, “You’re a freak, Ickadora Rat-Poop Karp,” before he and his friend scootched across the floor again, away from Icky.
                 
      Quiet reading time ended and the students had a math lesson, and then they passed out the Valentines—with much excitement by most of the other children, but much apathy on Icky’s part.  It stung a little when she thought back to the previous year, how foolish she’d been with her childhood notions of improving the world through silly cards.  She was wiser now.  Now she understood that nothing good could come of Valentines. 
                 
      By the time this exercise was completed, it was time for lunch, and the boxes of pink and red cards would wait to be opened that afternoon at the classroom party.  At lunch, Icky sat at the end of the table all alone, as usual.  She got up to throw away her trash, and paused along the way when she reached the section of the long table where Danny and his friends sat.  Danny was taking a huge gulp from his juice bag. 
                 
      “Is that Lemon Breeze flavor?” Icky asked.
           
       Danny wrinkled his face and mumbled irritably with his teeth still clutching the straw.  “I dunno.”
           
       Icky shrugged and moved on, but when she returned, she stopped again and let out a small giggle.
                 
      “What is your problem?” Danny grunted.
           
       “I could’ve sworn you brought Island Punch today.  Are you sure your drinks weren’t switched?”
                 
      “What do you care?”
                 
      “Yes, I guess that would be difficult to prove.”  Icky shrugged again and returned to her seat. 
           
      But through the corner of her eye, she saw Danny turn his juice bag around in his hand and look at it with confusion.  His friends had moved on to their banal discussion, but Danny continued to stare at the bag, his expression becoming more disturbed as he seemed to slowly put together the pieces of an intricate puzzle.  A little bit later, he wrapped his arm around his stomach and hunched over, as if he had cramps.  His skin looked a little green when he shot a menacing glance down the table at Icky.    
                 
      The students were dismissed to recess and it was only a matter of minutes before Icky found herself with her face pressed up against the cold metal pole of playground equipment. 
           
       “Give me the anti-poison beads, Ickbert!” Danny demanded.  “I know you didn’t poison me, but I’m going to take those beads just in case.”
                 
      Icky didn’t move or say a thing.   
                 
      “Fine, I’ll get them myself,” Danny said and shoved his hand under Icky’s woolen coat and into the front pocket of her pants.  It was then that she screamed.
           
       The lunch lady was there in a flash.  “Daniel Eldridge!  Get your hands off of her!”
                 
      Danny stepped back and shouted, “I didn’t do anything!  She started it!”
                 
      “Save it for the principal, Eldridge.”

      To be continued 

      Link to Part Three



                 

      21.10.10

      Dang! I Wish I Would've Known That!!!

      As I'm sure has become painfully obvious, I'm learning as I go on this whole promotion business, and it seems I'm always saying, "Dang, I wish I would've known that!" Then it occurred to me...maybe I'm not the only one who didn't know that...perhaps I should share my newfound wisdom.  So  here I am with my most recently acquired tidbit. 

      It's quite possible that I'm the very last person on Earth to learn this, but have you heard of the "Book Rate" at the U.S. Post Office (maybe in other countries too)?  It's this amazing thing where you say to your postal clerk "Send this at the book rate," and the postage is magically MUCH less!  For the last seven months I've been paying $5+ a pop to send out copies of Three Daves to contest winners, friends, and book reviewers, but today I walked in, said the magic words, and *poof* $2.38!  Two dollars and thirty-eight cents!!!  Less than half the cost! 

      *Inhale* *Exhale* No rant, because I'll consider the money I've tossed away a goodwill donation to the flailing USPS and simply be grateful that I've finally discovered the error of my ways.  And if my mistake can help you, then all the better. Please note that there is a slower delivery time with the book rate---I've heard it can take up to two weeks---but if you've got time to spare, it's the way to go. 

      And now, I'm going to go pack for my road trip tomorrow to my alma mater.  Oh, how I hope they still have Tainted Love on the jukebox at Marty's.  Pictures to follow next week. 

      Oh, but before I go -- THANK YOU to everyone who's helped me eek out more followers for my Trifecta goal.  I don't want to count my chickens and all that, but I think I feel a (ridiculous) 100 follower contest coming on soon...


      P.S. Anyone going to the Florida Writers Association Conference this weekend?  If so, look for Alison Oburia, who will be there signing copies of her romantic suspense novel, Passion Fish.   I promise, meeting her will add a little sunshine to your day.

      19.10.10

      Space Invaders


      Congratulations Alex J. Cavanaugh!

      Today is the release of his debut novel, CassaStar, a Sci-Fi space opera adventure.  I'm rather eclectic in my reading tastes and haven't had nearly enough exposure to ths genre, so I'm looking forward to it.  Plus, this Byron character sounds rather intriguing...

      CassaStar can be purchased at:



      “…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” 
      - Library Journal



      Even though I know Alex is extremely busy with a crazy blog tour schedule, I couldn't resist asking him my all time favorite author question:

      Moi: If you had to choose one song that best captures the essence of CassaStar, what would it be?

      Alex: Guilt Machine's "Green and Cream."  It's just for the sheer rush of energy, perfect for the space battles, mixed with introspective progressive rock, layered and detailed for the human element to the story.



      Enjoy!




      18.10.10

      Help! an Author Monday

      I am SO close to a 100 Follower Trifecta!  On Blogger, Facebook & Twitter I'm less than 10 followers away from reaching that golden threshhold. And so, I'm putting out a plea on all three social networks to see if I can close the gaps.

      And when I do...I'll give you a 100 Follower Contest unlike any you've seen so far!  The only thing I'll tell you about it is that it's going to be absolutely ridiculous.  Up for it?  If you'd like to help me get there, please follow me on any and all of the following: Blogger (duh), Facebook, and Twitter.  Danke shoen! ;)  
       
      I know I've been a little blog hop happy lately, but I can't help it---people keep coming up with such good ones!  The new Blog Hop I've entered is an extremely cool one for writers of all shapes and sizes.  You can read more about it in the post below.

      And...Meet an Author Monday is here once again.  Please stop by and visit any of the lovely authors below to see what wisdom they can impart upon your day.

      If you are a published author and join our hop, please paste the blog hop icon and code in your post so readers can keep hopping.