Monday, April 29, 2013

Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer

This novella by Kemmerer is part of the Elemental series, which includes the novella Elemental, the novella Fearless, the novel Storm, the novel Spark, and... coming soon... the novel Spirit.  Breathless is an e-novella which comes right after Spark.  The novella will be released on April 30.  That's tomorrow.  Go buy it.

Kemmerer writes really well.  Seriously, I didn't much like the characters in Storm, but I was sucked into the book because it was just that good.  The Merrick brothers seemed so real (for all their paranormalness) that I had to keep reading.
Spark I liked quite a lot.  And I've read both Elemental and Fearless.  So I was very excited to win an author's copy of Spirit from Brigid last week:

I was all set to read it when I learned that Breathless comes before Spirit chronologically.  So I hustled off to Amazon to pre-order a copy, slightly miffed that I'd have to wait until April 30.
Then, just tonight, Brigid tweeted me that Spirit has the novella in the back!!!
Thus, I've just finished Breathless.
Yes, folks, read the review right here BEFORE you can buy the book!
Breathless is my favorite so far.  It is SO not what you expect from a paranormal romance.  And the writing is still perfectly gripping.
I'm not going to tell you any more.  It's two bucks, people.  Go buy it and read it.  Do it now.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

First Proof Copies Of The (Dis)Appearance Of Nerissa MacKay

These arrived on Thursday.
Yes, I know that the cover has problems.  I've already talked to the resident artist (aka Dad) about how to fix it.  And I'm averaging about 8-10 changes per page on the text right now.
Getting the first copies of a book is always SO exciting!  And you should've seen the faces of the 7th graders who'd signed up to be  beta readers!  Yes, I let them choose from a package of colored pens so that each beta reader has a different color (about 4 kids will read each physical copy of the book, so having them stay consistent with their own color will be very helpful to me), showed them some printed instructions on how to make constructive comments (these kids are 12 years old; they don't already know how to do this), and then let them have their first go at it during reading time on Friday.  A couple of them are still too scared to write anything, but one boy dug in immediately, making several valid points.  And they definitely were envied by those who had not signed up/been selected.
I hope to get them all through this by the end of the school year.  Then I can do another copy over the summer and have more beta readers next fall.
I'm still waiting for one of the English teachers to finish his copy edits on Becoming Brigid, too.  I'm in hopes that one can be ready for publication by August (fingers crossed).  The librarian said he'd be happy to set up the book trailer over the summer, which is good.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Robert Kirby's 13 Particles of Faith

Robert Kirby is my favorite living humorist.  He might even be a tie for the incredible Erma Bombeck, who is no longer among the living.
Kirby's also the most realistic Mormon in the world, willing to admit his true thoughts about everything.  And this means he often gets hate mail from people who don't think he's a "good enough" Mormon or else that he'd make a better non-Mormon.  Last week, he responded to those people with his own thoughts on faith.
Part of that article includes his own personal parody of Joseph Smith's famous 13 Articles of Faith, which every Mormon primary child is required to memorize (you qualify for a gold star in my book if you can still recite them without looking; I can still do it.).  If you're familiar with the Articles of Faith, this is funny.  If you're a Mormon, this is REALLY funny.

Kirby’s 13 Particles of Faith
1. » I believe in God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and in mankind’s inability to tell the difference between them and a giant ball of fire or an extremely intolerant political party.
2. » I believe that men will be punished for their own transgressions, including stuff we did completely by accident or because of testosterone. Women will probably just get probation.
3. » I believe that through the atonement of Christ, everyone will one day be able to tell annoying church leaders where to get off.
4. » I believe that the first principles and ordinances of the LDS Church are boring speakers, meetings that last forever, music that sounds like whale sonograms, food storage gone bad and idiotic bickering over caffeine and movie ratings.
5. » I believe that a man must be called by God, by prophecy and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority, and that Facebook posts and texting do not apply. Meanwhile, women answer only to a biological clock.
6. » I believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church: deacons, teachers, centurions, lepers, thieves, virgins, lunatics, mustard seeds and demonically possessed swine.
7. » I believe in the gift of tongues and would die a happy man if, just once, some smarta-- would have the guts to try it when I was around.
8. » I believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon to be the word of God as far as I personally can translate them correctly, which I try not to do because it scares me.
9. » I believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal and I believe he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the colossal foolishness of the entire human race.
10. » I believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes, most of whom will work for Microsoft; that the New Jerusalem will be built on this (North American) continent by undocumented migrant labor and that Christ eventually will rain personality on a generally colorless church.
11. » I claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to it being none of your &%#@ business, and allow all men the same privilege, except for megachurch pastors, self-help gurus and some cannibals.
12. » I believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magis. . . wait, no I don’t.
13. » I believe in being honest to a point, true to myself, chased by the police, benevolent to the deserving, virtuous on the Internet and in doing whatever my wife says. Indeed, I may say that I follow the admonition of Paul in believing, hoping and enduring — and that all of this damn well better be worth it in the end.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Announcing The Title For My Newest Work In Progress

So, last July, I created my first outline for an alternate history/steampunk novel, which eventually was titled The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook. (Blurb and cover here.) Because I have been rather busy doing the final few months of edits of Becoming Brigid and getting the first physical proof copy of The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay ready for my first gamma readers (who come even before the beta readers), all I've done thus far on Chocolate Smuggler's is a prologue, chapter one, and at least 17 different plot outlines.
Then, last February, I had a new idea.  What if I did a series of short stories -- parallel chapters, if you will, done in the rambling, not-quite-a-plot style in which Alexander McCall Smith writes the 44 Scotland Street series -- set in the same alternate history world as The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook, but told in a different style and featuring minor characters and parallel plots happening in a different part of the continent, plots which will affect what happens to Olivia in the main book?  I'd publish the stories in e-book form individually, and then all in one POD volume later.  It'd be a fun way to promote the main new book.
I had my 9GT students help create characters' personalities for the series of short tales, but it wasn't until today that the ideas all clicked into place and I figured out how everything will all work together.  But now, I'm ready to announce my plans.
The entire group of works will be called The Chocolate Chronicles.  The main novel will be YA (because the story won't work if Olivia is any older than about 16, I've decided) and will retain the title of The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook and the main setting of the State of Deseret (which was, in real life, the very short-lived territory Brigham Young set up for the Saints; it was to be not-quite a part of the US, but the US government squelched that idea about 3 seconds after they became aware of it and pared down the area to Utah Territory).  The parallel tales will be called The Chocolate Chronicles: Scenes From New Penzance and will be set northwest of Deseret, in the town of New Penzance, in the country of Pacifica (which never existed, but will be somewhere east of the real town of Astoria, Oregon, along the Columbia River).  The titles of the individual tales are (so far) as follows: 1) The Tale of London Sunday, 2) The Tale of Lady Agnes Breathwright, 3) The Tale of Ellen Andersson, 4) The Tale of Camilla and Oscar, and 5) The Tale of Captain Annie Lovelark.
If all goes as planned, the tales should be steampunk and feature a gypsy merchant boy, a missing balloonist, a steamcowboy, investigative reporting, two sets of illegal identical twins, one set of legal fraternal twins, a sky pirate, a woman who prefers younger men, a revivalist preacher with some pretty strange ideas, a steampunk KGB, a battle of the sexes for power, herbal medicine, an alchemist, some Mormon mysticism from the early 1800s, ancient buried treasure, phrenology, a young man who reads Mary Shelley, some good, old-fashioned, Shakespearean cross-dressing, and -- of course -- illegal chocolate and those addicted to it.
Story inspirations thus far include the aforementioned 44 Scotland Street, Nellie Bly, Shakespeare's 12th Night, ABBA, Wicked Plants by Amy Steward, the Pulp-o-Mizer, a very strange dream I had a few years ago, The Pirates of Penzance, Jack Sparrow, a trip down the Oregon Coast, the story of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon, a line I had to edit out of a draft of All in the Half-Vampire Family, and the Beatles' movie Yellow Submarine.  (I'm sure you can see all the connections immediately, of course!)

I hope to have time to begin writing it all soon, but right now, it's nothing more than scribbled lists in two notebooks and a Pinterest page.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nerissa MacKay Is Ready For The Beta Readers

Well, almost.
Tonight, as the Boston police force was capturing the second bomber, I was following it on Twitter and submitting my files on CreateSpace at the same time.  By now, the bomber is caught, and I'm awaiting news from CreateSpace as to when I can order copies of The (Dis)Appearance Of Nerissa MacKay for my beta readers.
It's a  good night, eh?

Monday, April 8, 2013

YA Or New Adult Steampunk? That Is The Question.

So, Becoming Brigid is in the final editing/copy editing stages.  I'm working on a book trailer, giveaway items, and possible swag. I anticipate a late summer release for this one.  Perhaps even sooner.
The (Dis)Appearance Of Nerissa MacKay will be ready for beta readers as soon as Max can find time to help me format a cover.
Thus, it's time for me to dig into the first draft of another book, and I'm thinking that one will be The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook.

I have lots of character sketches and plot outlines done for this one.  The WIP cover is above, the hook is written, and the 1st chapter is nearly finished.
I'd really like to have a book sell more than what I've had so far, and to do that, I know I have to write *cringe* romance into the plot.
Yes, it's true that Becoming Brigid is for a somewhat older audience than my two Half-Vampire novels, and it does contain elements of romance.  But it's still very tame.
Romance sells.  Time and time again, I've seen poorly written books (both self-published and traditionally published) sell well because of the sappy romance in them.
Now, I'm not sure I could make myself write a sappy romance (because barf is not a good thing for a keyboard), but I think I could do SOME romance.  And I decided from the get-go that Smuggler's would have not a love triangle, but a love pentagram.  Yeah, FIVE guys are after Olivia.  Five.
So, here's the question: should I make Olivia 15 and have this all G- or PG-rated, with racing pulses and a few passionate kisses?  This would be truly YA.  Or should I make Olivia 18, make this PG-13 in rating, and imply some off-camera hanky panky going on?  And if it's off-camera hanky panky, does that make the book New Adult?  (Look, I'm not going to describe any of those scenes.  I'm a freakin' school teacher!)
Ah, what a quandary!
Your opinions would be appreciated.  Younger protagonist?  Or older?  What say ye?  Please leave a comment.

PS.  Have you considered entering my current contest yet?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


So, there's a lot of talk about travel safety lately, and Yahoo! just posted this map of where it's safe and not-so-safe to travel right now.

Okay, so like we didn't know that most of Africa is having issues?  Um, yeah.  That's been the case for my entire life.  And, gee, what a surprise: European travel appears to be safer than Asian travel.  What a shock.
But what's up with Canada?
The last time I checked, Canada still existed and wasn't particularly known for lack of safety -- unless maybe you harass the hockey players.
Are these people suggesting that Canada is so safe that they don't even need to bother to color it in?  Or that no one actually travels to Canada anyway, so why bother?  Dude, Greenland is colored in, for crying out loud.  But Canada gets the same treatment as Antarctica.
Sorry, folks of the Great White North, apparently Yahoo doesn't think you're worth mentioning.

Take off!