Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Flash Fiction: Gentleman Masquerader

Today, my flash fiction is my entry for Candilynn's Follow My Lead Flash Fiction Contest. It has to be under 300 words and use the first line supplied. Also, there is a picture supplied to use as extra inspiration. Thanks, Candilynn! Follow the link above to check out the other entries. Enjoy!

Gentleman Masquerader

The streets of this restless city never slept. Two couples walking as one stumbled along the sidewalk, clinging to each other for support, prattling and pointing, spilling and sinking, drinking through the night’s festivities. Those standing in doorways watched as they passed; others laughed and flashed, reaching for necklaces falling from balconies.

The street was filled with pedestrians instead of cars, the parties spilling out from the bars, creating a single group of hedonists. The couples finished their drinks and dove into the crowd to dance. Passing masqueraders and exhibitionists, they claimed a spot and let the music take them to the next level of ecstasy. The guys swayed and the girls twirled, reaching out and pulling back into each other’s arms.

“May I have this dance?” a masked man asked, stepping out from the surrounding dancers—offering a painted hand.

He bowed and the girl curtsied with a smitten giggle. Her partner stepped back and allowed the guest into their group’s intimate circle. She took the costumed man’s hand and stepped closer. He kept her at an elbow’s length as he led her through a classical waltz. They glided to the music like royalty amongst peasants.

When the song they started with bled into another, the elegant stranger cupped the girl’s hand in his and held it out.

“You are a lovely dancer, my dear. And so very beautiful,” he said and raised her hand to his lips and gave it a soft kiss. She blushed from his old-fashioned etiquette—and moaned when he sunk his teeth into the meat surrounding her thumb.

The masquerader dropped her hand and met the gaze of the group with blood dripping from his chin. Before the screams, he bowed again and slipped inconspicuously into the restless city crowd.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WoW: A Message from the King and Lesser Things

I've mentioned on numerous blog posts and comments to others that the main writing book I use for insight and inspiration is Stephen King's On Writing. So I thought I could use my Wednesday on Writing segment to highlight some of the King's pearls of wisdom by opening to a random page and finding a quote worthy of noting. And I know every page is noteworthy, but this will be the test. I shall not cheat.
Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy.
                                     - page 145, Stephen King's On Writing

I've been having trouble balancing blogging and writing over the past few months. I've wanted to build my blog as much as possible, but my writing has suffered as a result. I've seen similar comments on other blogs, so I realize I'm not alone. Though over the past few weeks, I've put my foot down! And this time it wasn't under the wheel of a backing-up car (not a smart place to put your foot down). My writing has to come first. That's the reason I built this blog in the first place. So now I cut myself off if I haven't hit my allotted word count for the day, which is not always a painless process--I just need to check one more post! Just one more, and then I'll be done!

So with that, Book 2 in The Lorne Family Vault Series is chugging along and I can finally see the end. It's not within reach yet, but it's visible. I'm estimating to write that liberating final word in three to four weeks. I was so afraid when I started that it wasn't going to be as good as Provex City, but now I feel it will be even better once it goes through all the necessary rounds of editing.

My added motivation as of late is to get a new project started, which is in the planning stages right now. What is it you ask? I'm sorry, I cannot divulge such information just yet eager readers. But I can say that it's already keeping me up at nights with anticipation. This detour from Oliver's adventure won't be too long, but it will be refreshing to attempt a new story, with a new voice, and a new style.  Yes, that keeps me up at night.

How is you WIP going? Are you a fan of On Writing? Are you looking forward to the weekend already? The year's almost half over--isn't that crazy!?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fabulous Blog Ribbon for Me!

James Anderson has passed this Fabulous Blog Ribbon to me. Thank you so much; I love the lists on this one. If you haven't checked out James' blog, then I suggest you do! He's juts getting himself established on the blogosphere and has some outstanding posts (including flash fiction)!

Here are the rules of the award:
1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Name five of your most fabulous moments, either in real life or in the blogosphere.
3. Name five things you love.
4. Name five things you hate.
5. Pass the ribbon on to five other bloggers. (Leave them a comment to notify them of their win.)
Here are my answers:
5 Most Fabulous Moments
1.   When my daughter was born
2.   When I married my soul mate
3.   When I held the first paperback copy of Provex City
4.   When I learned the guitar intro to Sweet Child O’ Mine     
5.   When I attended my first Tool concert     

5 Things I Love
1.   My family
2.   Music (listening and playing)
3.   Chocolate
4.   Ping-pong
5.   Coffee

5 Things I Hate
1.   Lousy coffee
2.   Loud people     
3.   People on their cell phones while ordering     
4.   Hearing bass from the neighbors     
5.   Erratic drivers     

Now to pass this award onto a few lucky bloggers (I'm picking two)...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Flash Review: Slipstream

For my second Friday Flash Review, I have Michael Offutt's debut novel, Slipstream. And I'm lucky enough to have Michael stop by and share a few thoughts as well.

Goodreads Description of Slipstream...

Jordan Pendragon is crazy good at fixing situations that have gone bad. It's a talent prized by his high school ice hockey team. However, when a car accident puts Jordan in the hospital, he wakes up with more than just an amazing slapshot in his toolbox. Jordan can manipulate space-time and in just a few weeks, he'll depend on it to save his life.

My Humble Opinion...

Michael Offutt’s debut novel, Slipstream, is unlike anything I’ve read. It is a sci-fi mystery, adventure with a teenage protagonist, Jordan Pendragon. The book gets its title from the physical phenomenon of the same name, which Offutt uses as an extraordinary ability to manipulate space-time, giving it to Jordon to discover and learn to harness.

The story begins on Earth, where Jordon, a high school hockey star with an aptitude for physics, learns of his ability with the slipstream. He meets a young British man, Kolin, who is from an alternate Earth, called Avalon. Avalon is a dystopian nightmare of megacities separated by vast wastelands, an insane artificial intelligence who claimed the role of God, and societies obsessed with beauty, youth, drugs, and violence. It’s like a gothic, futuristic Rome meets Las Vegas, which I love so much. The megacities are plagued by technologically enhanced versions of vampires, ghosts, and succubi. I find these surgical modifications quite interesting, a cool adaptation of these common creatures of the night.    

Once in Avalon, Jordan and his twin sister, Kathy, have to help a team of eclectic characters to free the imprisoned half of the AI in order to get home. There are many twists and turns along their adventure and I don’t want to slip up and drop any spoilers. But Offutt kept me guessing as the unlikely heroes battle corrupt and surgically enhanced people, mythologically based creatures, and insane super machines. The multiple fight scenes are intense and really propel the story forward. The creation of Avalon is described with in-depth quantum mechanics and technological explanations, which I found interesting—sometimes slightly over my head—but I feel the length of the explanations slowed down the story at times.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the unique story and descriptive dystopian world of Avalon paralleling our own. Even though the adventure revolves around a teenage protagonist, Slipstream is not classified as YA, which I agree with because it has some graphic scenes and language. Slipstream is the first novel in the A Crisis of Two Worlds Series, and I’m looking forward to Offutt’s next installment. 

A few minutes with Michael...

Thanks so much for joining me today! I very much appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your busy day to talk with me.

Where did your inspiration for Slipstream come from?
I don't really know actually. I just had this idea one day that I wanted to try writing a book again. I have several failed novels that just sit in drawers or in dead computer files. I knew the story I wanted to tell was going to be big. And I have all of these plans in my head of things I want to do and gadgets that I want to use in later books. I wrote a pretty detailed outline. Then I started world-building. I knew from the get go that I wanted my protag to be a hot young hockey player because I enjoy watching hockey on television. But I needed a story that wasn't about sports because I didn't want to write about sports. I just wanted that to be a facet of his personality (the same as him being gay--it's just one facet) and a means to progress the plot. I think I had the whole "show don't tell" mantra in the back of my head so wanted to establish that my protag was athletic without just saying "he's athletic" so being great in a sport was one way to do that. Then I had to decide if I was going to write in first person or third person. That's where the biggest inspirations came from. I turned to the works of great sci-fi authors like Frank Herbert, William Gibson, and Robert A. Heinlein. They all wrote in third person omniscient. So that's what I wanted to do. And I'm most comfortable with that style. I struggled with the whole YA label because I know that YA authors tend to write in first person. I knew that if my book got branded as YA, as soon as a girl picked it up and saw the first line and realized it was third person, that it was probably going to get a pass. So I really tried to impress upon people it was a sci-fi novel first (which has more acceptance of third person omniscient even if the hard sci-fi audience is one of the most snooty genres to write for).
Slipstream has quite the eclectic cast. How did you build and develop your characters?
I knew I wanted Jordan to be smart and that I wanted to use a lot of quantum mechanics because I find quantum mechanics and astrophysics to be fascinating stuff. Making him gay was just because I'm gay and well...write what you know, right? I made Kolin an English assassin because quite frankly, my D&D days taught me that assassins were pretty sexy, and I'm a sucker for an English accent. If you don't think assassins always look sexy, you need to pay attention to some ninja movies or look at the demon hunter in Diablo III. Just way sexier than the barbarian and far more interesting to me. And James Bond can be considered sexy, don't you think? And it's not too far to label Bond as an assassin. He has a license to kill after all. I needed Kathy because I have this whole clever thing that's going to happen in book 3 that has to do with the whole Excalibur legend and the Lady of the Lake. Plus I thought that the story I have for Jordan was too big for just himself. Dylan grew out of a desire to have a quirky paranormal character that could do weird stuff because he has a spirit cat as a companion. And Meteora and Chewy were both based off of World of Warcraft characters that I loved playing with in my guild. Meteora was the best shadow priest I have ever seen and Chewy is one heck of a warlock. Chewy consequently is played by Tomeka (one of my best friends) and a black woman in real life as well as in game. So it wasn't much of a stretch to make sure I had a major character that was black, smart, and beautiful.
What is you’re writing process like? Do you have a routine? Daily/weekly/monthly goals?
When I do write, it becomes almost an obsession. I stay up late, get up early, and work so hard that I actually don't like the feeling it leaves me with. So I actually go for months at a time without writing anything except blog posts because I know when I start my story, I won't want to do anything else, and that's unhealthy. It's really weird to explain, but it's almost like I feel I have to get the story out of me in order to get any sleep. And then I drive myself crazy obsessing over words and edits. I don't plan on writing anymore until the winter. I feel it's okay to be unhealthy in the winter because it's cold outside and there isn't much to do.
Would you like to share anything about what you’re working on next?
I'll be working on the third book in the series. The second book is in the hands of a great editor who will take the rest of the year to pore over it. Then DDP will probably look at publishing it sometime next year or maybe 2014 depending on how backed up they are. I know that it will be called "Caledfwlch" which is the Welsh name for "Excalibur". The second book is called "Oculus".  In case you were wondering, there's Arthurian allegory going on in Slipstream, and it's completely intentional. Since you read it, I'll go ahead and tell you that "Caldefwlch" is the only weapon that has the possibility of killing the Horcus because it isn't from Earth. I'm going with the whole "Forged by God" thing that people talk about when they discuss the sword of legend. I'm going to update it's not going to be some crusty medieval weapon. Jordan will be able to transform it into anything in the Slipstream field--that includes shiny snowboards!
  Do you have any advice for writers dreaming of becoming published?
Network with other writers through a blog. Stop being alone. Writers can help you with advice and by being supportive and with reviews. You want to have friends in the industry who've got your back when the Amazon trolls start rolling in with their one star reviews. It helps to have that padding from twenty or so bloggers who have read your work and given you fair reviews before some jerk cruises in and says "I never read this book but noticed all the four and five star reviews so made a one star one to call attention to it." And trust me...this does happen for real.
Thank you again, Michael! It has been a real pleasure sharing this post with you. Below are links to Michael's blog, Goodreads, and Twitter, and a link to get Slipstream for yourself. Thank you for reading. I'll do my best to stop by your blogs this weekend, and I'll be right back here first thing on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!

Michael Offutt!/MichaelOffutt

Michael Offutt is a writer of science-fiction books. Depending on when you catch him, he may also be an aspiring writer of epic fantasy, young adult fiction, or a daily non-sequitur. He has one brother, no pets, and a few roots that keep his tree of life sufficiently watered.
Mr. Offutt's mother is a four-foot tall Japanese woman and his father is a six-foot tall white man from Texas with a thick southern drawl. She loves city life and sushi. He loves small towns with run-down pick-up trucks and fried chicken.

When he asked his mother how they got together, she happily responded that when she was working in the United States Air Force back in the '50's, she used her spare time as an office clerk at the Air Force Base to look over personnel records for a husband. He remarks that peculiar behavior like this must have been how people met each other prior to the influence of Facebook and Twitter. It puzzles him whenever he thinks about it, so he chooses instead to just love his stalker mother who speaks quite fondly of the family to the fictional people that live in the basement.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WOW: Interview, More Pages, & Indie Hop Winners!

I'm excited to share with you today that I've been interviewed by Andrea Teagan @ The Enchanted Writer! So you're mission, if you choose to accept it, is to check it out on her blog. And report back. :)

Andrea also gave Provex City a five star review on Amazon and Goodreads...yay! I still get so excited, like I'm five years old again on Christmas morning. Thank you, Andrea, for the interview and review! I appreciate the support.

Also, you may have seen that I have added a few more pages to this blog. I wanted to organize my flash fiction, reviews, and guest posts. I don't have many of any one of those yet, but I think it's a good start. Feel free to check out what they looked like in the beginning. I'm curious to see what I'll have listed a year from now.

And lastly...and certainly not least...THE WINNERS to my Indie Author Blog Hop Giveaway! Thank you to everyone who participated and welcome to my new followers.

Elizabeth Hyatt

Denise Zaky

Jennifer Mill-Irving

If you're a winner and you didn't get my email, then please let me know. 

Friday, I will have special guest for another edition of Friday Flash Reviews. I will be posting my review of Slipstream with an interview with its author, Michael Offutt. I hope you come back and join us. Next Friday, I'll return to my Flash Fiction, participating in Candilynn's Flash Fiction Contest. Give her a visit, if you haven't done so already.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Breakthrough Giveaway, 7x7 Award, & Lucky 7 Meme Revisited

Stephen Tremp's novel, Breakthrough, is available FREE to download today and tomorrow on Amazon! Click on the book cover to get your copy now. And if you haven't checked out Stephen's blog, then I suggest you do! Below is a brief description of Breakthrough taken from Stephen's Goodreads event.

“In a world about to be radically changed by a scientific discovery that will trump for good or evil purposes, a power-play struggle unfolds with breakneck speed and riveting drama in Breakthrough. Filled with intrigue, romance, betrayal, action scenes that have you gripping, some spiritual contemplation and quandary, emotions that run deep and strong, and packed with a multi-faceted cast of varied and multi-dimensional characters, Breakthrough is a novel you will find next to impossible to put down once you start reading” - Marvin Wilson, author and editor.”

Thank you to C.M. Brown for passing this award on to me! She is the author of He Comes for Me, which she is offering as a prize in her Indie Author Giveaway Blog Hop, which continues through Wednesday. Check it out!

RULE #1: Tell everyone something that no one else knows about you.
This is something that pretty much no one who knows me now except for my immediate family, knows...When I was in elementary school, I used to make haunted Forest attractions in my backyard for the neighborhood kids around Halloween. They were horrifically bad. Haha.

RULE #2: Link to one of the posts that I personally think best fits the following categories.

Most Beautiful 
"G" is for Gwendolyn  
My April A-Z Challenge entry about my now five month old daughter is very special for me.

Most Helpful & Most Popular
Self-Publishing in 300 Words or Less
I think my recent guest post of Alex Cavanaugh's blog was the most helpful and most popular (what do you expect, it was on the Ninja Captain's blog)

Most Controversial
"C" is for Customer Service
This post during the April challenge got very little response, so I wasn't sure if I had offended people. Otherwise, I don't really have any controversial posts. 

Most Surprisingly Successful
April 1st! The A-Z Challenge Begins! "A" is for Amazon
The April challenge sparked my emergence as a real blogger with real blogger interactions. I have Alex to thank for introducing me to that challenge, too!

Most Underrated
Waiting for Inspiration
No one read my early posts. They were like journal entries. I feel like I've come so far in a short period of time. This was just one of those I liked.

Most Pride Worthy
"P" is for Provex City is Finally Available in Paperback
It was such a great feeling to make this announcement!

RULE #3: Pass this award on to 7 3 bloggers
(don't feel obligated to participate if you don't want to; it's just for fun!)

Heather Murphy @ Random Interrumptions
Andrea Teagan @ The Enchanted Writer
Nick Wilford @ Scattergun Scribblings

Julie @ What Else is Possible? passed on The Lucky 7 Meme to me, and I do feel lucky...punk. I've done this twice now. You can read all my answers from my original post HERE. The second time, I just set up a link to the original post. This time, I've got a special treat. I'm redoing the excerpt part of the meme, and I'm using my WIP--Book 2 in The Lorne Family Vault Series. Page 77, Line 7, post the next 7 lines (or paragraphs). It's still rough, but here it is:
 (Oliver, Desiree, and a new character named Darius Fitz, are sitting and talking at a coffee shop in Provex City)
“You can go out and spend all your parent’s money?” Desiree asked.
“Not exactly. Parents set the parameters. I’m capped pretty low. And they’re alerted to all my transactions," Darius said.
“Oh...that actually kind of sucks.”
“But when I turn sixteen I get my permanent ID and my own private accounts and everything. I can’t wait.”
“What happened with the fake ID you tried to make?” I asked, thinking we could use something like that.
“It’s really complicated. We had to essentially create new people because we are already in the Greater Meric government files, which is practically impossible to hack into. So we had to create new identities, new accounts, and unique ID codes. I don’t know if you saw one up close, but they look similar to the code that I have, except that it’s a specialized tattoo called a DNA Brand. The ink is interlaced with your DNA for authenticity, which is picked up by the scanners. There are generator programs on the interlanet to help build a unique code, but getting the DNA percentage exact in the ink is not so easy.”
“It didn’t work, I take it.” I knew it was too good to be true.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Flash Fiction: Eileen

I saw her for the first time while sitting on the bank of the pond, my afternoon sanctuary in the woods behind my house. Her head emerged from the calm water, with long blonde hair slicked back and the tips spreading out on the sunlit surface like tiny snakes dispersing in all directions. She caught sight of me immediately and produced the most beautiful smile I’d ever had directed at me. As her shoulders bobbed rhythmically with the water, I noticed she wore a collared long sleeved shirt.
I was taken aback by my unexpected visitor and had a fleeting urge to jump to my feet, but her beautiful gaze hypnotized me and kept me seated. She looked about my age, but not like any girl at my high school. She had a wild and carefree spirit that only a girl swimming in a pond fully clothed could have on a humid autumn day. Her face was completely washed clean of make-up, but her skin was so fair and flawless that it would have only distracted from her beauty.
“Hey there,” she said, almost shouting at me over nature’s conversations of birds and trees. “I’ve seen you here before.”
“You have?” I asked. My body released a shutter from her stalkerish statement. “Do you go to Rose Madden High, too?”
“Once upon a time,” she answered, gliding through the water with a graceful breast stroke.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Once upon a time there was a girl named Eileen who went to Rose Madden High.”
She found her footing as the water became shallow and stood up, now with only her legs submerged. She wore washed blue jeans below her plaid, button-down shirt, which clung tightly to her dripping body.
“Do you always go for afternoon swims in your jeans, Eileen?”
“Why, is that weird?”
“A little.”
“Then I guess I’m a little weird,” she snapped back with a smirk.
Our conversation continued uninterrupted for a few minutes, but she never got out of the water. She splashed around, back floated away, and swam back to the shallow edge—never allowing the pond to fully calm.
“Hey, Davy Boy!” a voice called to me from the thick of the trees. It was followed by the crunching of dried leaves as footsteps approached. “What, you too good to wait for us?”
I looked over my shoulder and saw Toby, Stretch, and Tiny wading through the brush.  “I got board so I went on ahead.” I turned back to Eileen and was about to introduce her to my friends (who were never going to believe I was talking to such a smoking hot girl), when I discovered she was gone. The pond was still except for an expanding ripple like someone had thrown a rock into the water. But if she was under there, she never came up for air. 

Be sure to check out my Indie Author Blog Hop Giveaway where I'm giving away paperback copies of Provex City

Thursday, June 14, 2012

First Kiss!

Thank you to Jackie: Bouquet of Books and Dani: Entertaining Interests for hosting the First Fight / First Kiss Blogfest! Now it is time for the First Kiss. As promised, the scene below is also from Provex City. It is during Desiree's Halloween party and Oliver gets his first kiss from Desiree's best friend, Anna. Enjoy!

Desiree handed Anna her mixed drink, and she took a sip immediately.
“Com’on Anna, let’s go outside. Let’s pick up where we left off,” Todd continued, seemingly unfazed from the previous rejection. Anna looked like a confused little girl, clutching her drink with both hands, not really sure which way to go. Todd held his hand out to coax Anna toward him.
“I dunno,” Anna said, lingering next to Desiree.
Desiree looked back at me with a silent fury and bulging eyes, gesturing to me with her facial expression to do something.
Anna took a step toward Todd, who was using any means necessary to lure her to him.
Without thinking, I took action. I walked right up behind Anna, wrapped my arms around her waist, and pulled her into me. I whispered in her ear, “Would you like to dance?”
She instantly spun around in my arms with a gleeful “Sure,” and rammed her lips into mine in front of everyone. Her fangs hit my teeth and nearly cut my lip. I was so startled I almost pulled back, but I was so excited I pushed through the initial pain. Anna must’ve felt it too because she quickly pulled back, ripped the fangs from her mouth, and planted her lips back on mine.
Desiree gasped at the unexpected scene, and I heard Anna’s cup once again hit the floor. I internally cringed from the sound of the ice mixed splash, which sprayed the back of my pants. My eyes darted to Desiree and then around the group of onlookers. It was nerve-racking to be sober and the center of attention, so I closed my eyes and pretended we were the only ones in the room.
The moment was everything. Our arms were tight around each other, pressing our bodies together so I could feel her heart sweetly speaking to mine. Our lips danced passionately together and our tongues met, shyly at first, but grew more comfortable as they caressed one another. My head swam with the thought that this wasn’t actually happening, but my body couldn’t deny that it was.
Anna suddenly broke away, breathing heavily, looking smitten, guilty, and shocked all at the same time. We were both speechless for a moment, though probably for different reasons, so we just looked at each other. The expression on her face changed when she realized she had dropped her nearly full drink on the floor. “Oh my God, Desiree, I’m so sorry!” Anna cried and fell to her knees in an attempt to pick up the empty cup.
“It’s okay,” Desiree said, already with a wad of paper towels in her hand. I helped Anna out of the spill and back onto her unsteady feet. Guiding Anna to take a few steps back, I wiped off her knees and helped Desiree clean the floor.
Eli and his friends, having had enough of the spectacle, disappeared into the backyard. Hopefully, it was time for their second set, and they would be occupied for a while.
“Desiree, I’m so sorry! I don’t know what got into me.” Anna stumbled backwards and plopped down in a chair at the kitchen table. Other groups of people gathered around the kitchen went back to their conversations. We’ll probably be the talk of the school on Monday. “But may I have another one?”

Thanks for reading! Now, be sure to check out these other blogs participating in First Fight / First Kiss.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 Debut Author Blog Hop Giveaway Winners!!!

Thank you everyone who participated in my blog hop! I had a whole lot of fun and I hope you did, too. Now, it is the time you've all been waiting for - the time to announce the winners!

So please help me congratulate the winners of my 2012 Debut Author Blog Hop:

Elizabeth K.

***and both of you should have received an email from me already, so if for some reason you didn't, then please let me know***

 I hope many of you will come back to visit me again for more giveaways, including the one already going: The Indie Author Blog Hop Giveaway. The prize is a paperback copy of my young adult novel, Provex City. Thanks again and I'll see you around the blogosphere!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Indie Author Giveaway Blog Hop!

June 13th to 19th
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Krazy Book Lady

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my giveaway! I'm so excited for the opportunity to participate in this blog hop and offer three lucky winners paperback copies of my debut YA fantasy novel, Provex City. I know I just did the ebook giveaway, but if you were holding out for a paperback copy, then here's your chance! :)

Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls?

Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: "When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls." And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom.

                                                                                             ~Goodreads description of Provex City

Here are the official rules/guidelines for the giveaway:
  1. You must be a follower of this blog. Just click the Join this Site box below "Followers" on the sidebar.You may follow through NetworkedBlogs.
  2. You can gain extra entries by following me on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, friending me on Goodreads, and liking my Facebook fan page.
  3. This is open to international followers.
  4. Even though you don't gain an extra entry, feel free to comment below because I'd love to hear from you!
  5. This contest runs from June 13th - 19th.
  6. The two winners will be selected on June 20th via Rafflecopter random selection and announced in this post. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will draw another winner. 

Thanks Again & Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Also, make sure to check out the other blogs participating in this Giveaway Hop, too!

First Fight!

Thank you to Jackie: Bouquet of Books and Dani: Entertaining Interests for hosting the First Fight / First Kiss Blogfest! Today is First Fight. The scene below is from Provex City, Oliver's first fight at school against the king bully, Sasha. Enjoy!

We walked past the science building and through the quad. Along the way I noticed the three guys from gym class. They sat with a larger group of guys and girls. Just the sight of them brought back the fury of the incident in the locker room. I tried not to look at them, but I couldn’t help glancing over.
“Hey, Nut Grain!” one of them yelled. “Who’s your girlfriend?”
“She’s a little out of your league, don’t you think?”
Desiree and I kept walking, and I tried my best to ignore them. I had a hard enough time dealing with them when there were only three, and now the group contained eight or more.
“Who are they?” Desiree asked. We were almost across the quad.
“Some guys in my gym class,” I said, clenching my fists.
“Nut Grain! Aren’t you gonna introduce us?”
Desiree turned and shouted back, “Shut up, jerks!”
Everyone in the group laughed and the verbal assaults continued. “Now we know who wears the pants in the relationship. And it sure ain’t you, Nut Grain.”
I stopped. My nails were digging into my palms. We had almost reached the humanities building. The doors were in sight. Desiree tugged at my arm, pleading with me to take those last few steps.
“Listen to your girlfriend. Keep walking and show us how scared Newbie really is.”
Apprehensively, I turned to face my aggressors. It was Sasha doing most of the talking. He stood in front of his group, staring me down. Students from other groups began to tune in to the escalating conflict.
“What are you gonna do?” he asked, not laughing anymore.
I was sweating under my clothes and my knees shook, which hopefully didn’t show. Desiree continued to tug at my arm.
“Watch out, he might trip and fall into you,” Greg shouted, looking as menacing as ever with his shaved head. That got people in the group laughing again, but not Sasha. He was dead serious.
I took a step forward, despite Desiree’s efforts and the screaming in my head that I should turn around. What are you doing?!
The group quieted, anticipating my next step.
I had no idea what I was going to do. I had never been in a fight before, but I saw one unfolding before me. I was afraid to move forward, but terrified of backing down. What are you doing, stupid?!
“What’s your problem with me?” I said, taking another step, then another, and another, until I found myself purposefully walking toward him, breaking through my petrified state.
He shrugged. “Does it really matter? Maybe I want to see if you have what it takes to shoot yourself in the face.”
“It’s not gonna happen.” I stopped at an arm’s length away from him. The rest of his group stood up and encircled us. I now wished I had just turned away, the fear and claustrophobia became overwhelming.
“I believe in you, Newbie,” he said with a smirk and, before I even knew what was happening, he punched me just below the breastplate.
I sank to my knees, coughing and wheezing, and gasping for air. My eyes welled up and I couldn’t catch my breath. A stabbing pain resonated throughout my abdomen.
“Get up! Get up, Nut Grain!” Sasha yelled. The group surrounding us cheered and laughed.
Someone yelled, “Fight…fight!” and more students came running.
Sasha paced around my crumpled body. “Get up, Boy!”
My eyes cleared and some strength returned to my legs. There were cheers coming from all around—there must have been dozens of students surrounding us now. I heard the cries of Desiree from somewhere behind me, as she tried to break into the circle. But the front ring of guys held her back.
I stood up, tried to forget about the humiliation, and looked at my attacker with a fury I had never felt before. I clenched my fists together and took a wild swing, scraping only air. Sasha kicked at my knees and they buckled, dropping me to the ground again. I grabbed his leg and tried to yank him down, but he broke free and kicked me in the stomach while I was still knelt over. Again, I fought through a fit of coughing and wheezing. Desiree yelled from the background, trying desperately to stop the fight. I was losing strength fast. I probably wouldn’t even be able to stand. I was weak and losing. Sasha was bigger, stronger, and obviously more experienced.
I stood up again, a little dizzy and nauseous, swaying on my feet. Desiree continued to yell for help, but no one seemed to be coming. I was scared; my whole body hurt and throbbed. All I had was myself. I had to do something.
And I did.
Sasha stood in front of me with a confident grin. I threw him off guard by suddenly lunging at him, taking us both to the ground and breaking open the circle. Due to some screaming and swearing, I think we knocked down a few other students, but I couldn’t make out what was happening. I had my hands locked around his body and accidently head-butted him in the face as we hit the ground. Sasha tried to grapple me into a headlock with one arm and threw punches with the other. I released my hold to defend myself and threw some punches of my own. We rolled around as a mass of flailing limbs. I felt pain from the punches I received and the punches I threw, some finding him and others finding the ground. There was no constraint or strategy at this point, just feral attacks by any means necessary.
The crowd cheered and chanted, now sounding muffled and distant. I was fighting for my life and had no idea whether I was winning or losing.
Suddenly, a hand grabbed the handle of my backpack and pulled me off Sasha with inexplicable force. I was practically yanked off the ground and landed on unstable feet, with my arms still flailing out in front of me. Tears and blood ran down my face and my eyes were shut tight.
“Break it up!” a familiar voice yelled.
As I opened my eyes, I noticed I wasn’t fighting Sasha anymore. He was still on the ground with rips in his shirt and blood on his arms and face, propped up on his elbows. He looked furious, but didn’t move.
“Everyone, get out of here! Go back to your lunches!”
I turned to see who was still grasping my backpack and saw the welcoming face of Mr. Gordon.

Thanks for reading! Now, be sure to check out these other blogs participating in First Fight / First Kiss.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Big Thank You and What's Coming Next!

Thank you for the well wishes  to Gwendolyn! I hope she sleeps tonight. It's been a long few days, and I'm trying my best not to get sick, too. But as Barney for How I Met Your Mother says:
Whenever I start feeling sick, I just stop feeling sick, and start feeling awesome instead. True story.
I hope it works. It's all in my head. Sorry If I'm not visiting as much over the next few days, but I will try my best. Now, onto bigger and better things.

Thank you for all the comments for my guest post on Alex's blog (and for leaving some here as well). It was awesome and a little overwhelming, I don't know how he gets to everyone...but I guess that's why he's the Ninja Captain. And thank you for helping make my Provex City giveaway a success! I was privileged to give away 1300 copies, and I hope many of those people will actually enjoy it. :) I almost made it to the Top 100 Free ebooks. My favorite number was #29 for Free Children's ebooks. I couldn't have done it without your help (my help? Yes, your help--I'm pointing at you!).

My 2012 Debut Author Blog Hop Giveaway is still going and has 2 more days, so enter to win a SIGNED copy of Michael Offutt's debut novel, Slipstream!

I received the 7x7 Link Award from C.M. Brown and the Lucky 7 Meme from Julie Flanders, last week. Thank so much for thinking of me and I will post about them next Monday. :)

This week I am also participating in the First Fight / First Kiss Blogfest hosted by Jackie: Bouquet of Books and Dani: Entertaining Interests. I will be using scenes from Provex City because it actually has both, how lucky for me! Tuesday is First Fight, and Thursday is First Kiss.

Lastly, I am doing one more Blog Hop Giveaway starting Wednesday for Indie Authors. I really didn't want to do two giveaway blog hops in a row, but this was my chance to offer the paperback of Provex City. So if you held out because you don;t like ebooks, then this is your chance.

Do I have enough going on? I don't have time to get sick. :) Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Sorry everyone, but my Monday post will be late. Gwendolyn has a cold and hasn't been sleeping well the last few nights, so my wife and I have been up with her a lot throughout the past couple nights. So I'm just exhausted. And tonight is already shaping up to be another long night.

I'll write my "true" Monday post tomorrow evening. I hope it'll be worth the wait. :) Thank you for stopping by and I hope you had a great weekend. I'm sorry I don't have more to offer at the moment.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Guest Posting & Giveaways

As promised, today I have a guest post on Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog. Yes, you heard right, the Ninja Captain himself. Thank you, Alex, for giving me the opportunity to be a guest on your blog.  I appreciate any comments you'd like to leave hear, but I don't want to write much so you have time to check out my guest post!

Secondly, I have a giveaway going on right now (see Wednesday's post below), where I am giving away two SIGNED copies of Slipstream, Michael Offutt's debut novel. Please sign up for your chance to win!

And lastly, Provex City is FREE to download on Amazon today through Sunday! It's always great to take advantage of free. I appreciate any support you can offer by telling your friends, tweeting, mentioning the offer on your blog...anything would be amazing. :) Also in the spirit of Provex City, I'd like to show you the button that Carrie Butler just finished creating for me (for being one of her blogiversary winners; and congratulations to her for scoring a contract with Sapphire Star Publishing!). She did an amazing job and I'm proud to pin it to my blog.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

2012 Debut Author Giveaway Hop!

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my giveaway! I'm so excited for the opportunity to participate in this blog hop and offer two lucky winners SIGNED copies of Slipstream, by debut author Michael Offutt, someone I've had the recent pleasure of talking with. You can find him on his blog HERE.

Jordan Pendragon is crazy good at fixing situations that have gone bad. It's a talent prized by his high school ice hockey team. However, when a car accident puts Jordan in the hospital, he wakes up with more than just an amazing slapshot in his toolbox. Jordan can manipulate space-time and in just a few weeks, he'll depend on it to save his life.

When earthlings detonated the first atomic bomb in 1945, something incredible happened. The detonation triggered an extinction level event on a parallel world. A computer program saved humanity and became the ruler of this place. However, its brilliant mind fragmented and became insane.

Jordan's power strands him in this nightmare universe. To get home, he becomes a professional in a sport where athletes are killed to boost network ratings. To survive, he discovers that the most broken among us can be fixed and that love is unpredictable. Near the end, he also learns a startling truth about his own birth. If he fails to fix the computer’s insanity, both Earth and this sister world are doomed.

~Goodreads description of Slipstream by Michael Offutt

Here are the official rules/guidelines for the giveaway:
  1. You must be a follower of this blog. Just click the Join this Site box below "Followers" on the sidebar.You may follow through NetworkedBlogs.
  2. You can gain extra entries by following me on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, and liking my Facebook fan page.
  3. This is open to international followers.
  4. Even though you don't gain an extra entry, feel free to friend me on Goodreads and comment below because I'd love to hear from you!
  5. This contest runs from June 7th - 13th.
  6. The two winners will be selected on June 14th via Rafflecopter random selection and announced in this post. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will draw another winner. 

Thanks Again & Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Also, make sure to check out the other blogs participating in this Giveaway Hop, too!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

IWSG, A New Knight, & An Award!

It's that wonderful time of the month again, the first Wednesday, which means a post dedicated to the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Mine is a little early this month because I have a blog hop giveaway post scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, and I didn't want this post getting lost by having them both on the same day.

 So I had my first IWSG post in March, which seems so long ago now. I had been blogging for a couple months at the time, but all my posts were more like journal entries, just for me to read. I didn't know how to get out there and just start talking to people. Then I found this group and talked to a few people the first month. And then the April challenge hit and I talked to a few more. I'm beginning to feel like a real blogger now. So much has changed in the past few months.

Thank you to everyone who's come to visit me, left a comment once or twice, or leaves comments regularly. :) I try to hit as many blogs as my nights allow for most of the week, though I do need to take a night or two off to relax.

It's great to feel involved in a group like this and in the blog hop events. I've started highlighting exciting news of other bloggers when I find the announcements in time, and I'd like to do it more. :) I'll soon set up a new tab for guest posting and highlighting. So if there's something you'd like me to highlight, then feel free to email me.

More news I have about getting involved is receiving the opportunity to work with Ciara Knight on her Goodreads group The Knights of the Round Table. I know very little about moderating a Goodreads group, but I'm determined to learn fast and do the best job I can! It's a really fantastic group bringing authors and readers together, giving readers the opportunity to read books for free in exchange for reviews. What a great concept and I'm thrilled to be a part of the group. Please, check it out. Thanks again, Ciara!

Lastly, I received The Booker Award from Andrea: The Enchanted Writer. She has an enlightening and entertaining blog, and a fellow IWSG  member. Check out her blog if you have not done so already. Thanks so much, Andrea!

The rules for this award:
This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing is okay)
Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books you have ever read. (More than five is okay) You must give this award to 5-10 3 (I'm bending the rules a little) other lucky book blogs you adore.

 Here are my favorite books (in no particular order):
And I'm passing this award on to three bloggers I greatly admire:
Thanks for reading. And don't forget to enter my blog hop giveaway starting Thursday, checkout my guest post on Alex's blog on Friday, and download a FREE copy of Provex City this weekend from Amazon!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Start of an Eventful Week!

I hope you all had a fun weekend. I had the opportunity to see American Idiot: The Musical and it was freakin' awesome! If you appreciate the American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown albums, then I know you'll like it,too. The playlist was practically perfect. The only song I was really missing was "Restless Heart Syndrome" from 21st Century Breakdown. There were also a few songs from b-sides that I hadn't heard before. The song I loved was "When It's Time," which had the intro guitar-work of "When September Ends."

The Show has a parental advisory for language, drug use, and sexual situations. If that doesn't offend you, then I very much recommend it. The story follows the lives of three friends in modern suburbia looking for fun and excitement, meaning and purpose, and shows how their lives are ultimately affected by the choices they make. It is powerfully presented and the rearranged music is almost as good as being at a Green day concert. I want to see it again!

I'd like to highlight my good friend James Anderson (that's Mr. Anderson to you!), who has finally decided to jump into the ocean waters of blogging with both feet. He got his blog officially up and running last week and it's off to a great start. He is a professional editor by day and ready to get his fiction career started. His blog will discuss technology, entertainment, writing from an editor's perspective, and will share Friday flash fiction. Please help me in welcoming James to the blogosphere, click HERE to pay him a visit, and don't be shy about following a newbie blogger and a new member of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! :)

Since I mentioned IWSG, I will be posting mine a little early, Tuesday night, because I am participating in a blog hop giveaway starting Wednesday afternoon that goes though next Wednesday: 2012 Debut Author Blog Hop Giveaway! I'm so excited because I have the opportunity to give away a few SIGNED copies of Michael Offutt's debut novel, Slipstream. Some of you may know him....okay, most of you. :) Please enter to win!

On Friday, I will be over at Alex Cavanaugh's blog for my first ever guest post! I hope it's well received. No pressure. So, I won't have a Friday Flash Fiction this week. Sorry, but it will return next week (hopefully with a cool new graphic thanks to James).

Also on Friday (or starting Friday rather), the Kindle edition of Provex City will be free on Amazon! The free promotion will continue through Sunday. Please take the opportunity to download Provex City for the low, low price of FREE! Tell your friends. Harass your family. Tweet, post, recommend, shout from the roof tops! They all must go. :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Flash Fiction: My Zombie Little Brother

My little brother, Kyle, has been six years old for six years now. Ever since he was bitten by that decrepit stray cat passing through our backyard, he has stopped growing and smells as retched as that damn cat no matter how many times we scrub him down. He’s always up for play fighting, wrapping his chubby arms around my leg and his little jaws going for the thigh. But luckily for me, I peel him off and throw him easily to the ground, where his little limbs flail spastically in all directions. When he gets too aggressive and adamant about devouring the family, he spends a timeout in his room. Zombie kids never learn and rarely listen. But he’ll always be my little brother and I love him for who he is.
Since he began eating us out of house and home, Mom had to go back to work to pay for the extra pounds of raw meat he goes through daily. The butcher took sympathy on the family and printed a rewards card just for us: One hundred pounds of meat and the next pound’s free! With Mom and Dad away at work, I bring Kyle with me to school. I can’t just leave him home alone to terrorize the neighbors, even though ridding the street of the Paulson kids wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Kyle follows me around the campus and stands beside me in class. Fellow students in close proximity don’t always appreciate the staring, excessive drooling, and gurgling sounds, but they’ve come to accept Kyle over the past few years. He’s even become the school mascot. The games when he gets to run around like a banshee in his personalized polar bear costume make me so proud and sometimes bring a tear to my eyes. For those magical moments, Kyle’s in zombie kid heaven. They’re also the times when he can’t hurt anyone no matter how hard he tries to bite through the furry, padded suit. Have you ever seen a zombie kid chasing his back zipper like a dog chasing its tail? I’ll try to remember to post a video.
Now that I’m a senior, Kyle and I run the school. He marches beside me like my own personal midget bodyguard. The incoming freshmen have no idea what to expect when they see us strutting down the hall. When I yell, “Sick’em, Kyle!” he charges their huddled clusters, scattering freshmen like a murder of crows. Sometimes he charges off on his own accord and I have to reel him back before he wreaks too much havoc. Silly freshmen, as long as they’re wearing long pants, they’ll be fine. That’s my little brother, always trying to take people out at the knees. His persistence is inspirational. We can all learn a thing or two from Kyle, my zombie little brother.

In fellow blogger news, Nancy Thompson has revealed the cover to her book, The Mistaken today! Hop over to her blog to find out more about her book. The Mistaken has a release date of October, 18th. Mark it on your calendars. Congratulations, Nancy! :)
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