Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here's a contest you don't want to miss!

When you've dusted off the cobwebs from New Year's Eve and are sitting there, staring at a shiny new 2014 wondering what it holds in store for you, decide that this is the year. A contest, an awesome, clever query letter, polished first pages. You're going to take the next step in your publishing career.

Here's one way to get started. The Sun Vs Snow contest. Maybe you're surrounded by snow and love it, or are yearning to sunbathe. Or maybe looking at bare ground or ocean makes you wish you could build a snowman or strap on a pair of skis., Or have you declared no one will ever pull you kicking and screaming from those warm southern states?

Either way, you must visit Michelle Hauck's blog. Tomorrow, Jan 1, 2014, she'll be posting the amazing agents for this contest. Amy Trublood's site lists the wonderful mentors who've signed up to help you polish all the details of your entry.  Keep an eye on both of them for the contest details - entries accepted Jan 18th.

These are both blogs you should be following on a regular basis, and check out Michelle's book too.

Now go enjoy your New Year's Eve - responsibly of course, but with all the abandon that tell the world you will get noticed in 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

15 Awesome books for $1.99 and a $100 giveaway!!!

Visit Susan Kaye Quinn's blog for details on this amazing 15 book set available for $1.99.

Or go straight to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to purchase.

Then go here for a Rafflecopter chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash

These are some great authors, I've already downloaded mine and look forward to getting started on these books.

And check back here tomorrow for another writing contest post - this is one you don't want to miss.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

New Contest - Get Your Query Ready by Jan 4th!

Mike Anthony of Query Kombat fame is hosting a new contest. So no resting over the Holidays - get that query ready for January 4th, 2014. (ooh, early practice typing the new year!)

Here's the link for Writer's Outworld and all the details. Good luck everyone!

For my regular readers, I know how hard it is to keep on top of every blog when you're looking for those awesome contests. So I plan to list them here. Then you can be prepared to enter - and follow the awesome blogs of your contest hosts! If you know of a writing contest I might have missed, just email and let me know.

Starting in January, I will also open my blog up to featuring book launches for fellow writers. Just drop a note to the address above and let me know if you'd like to be featured. I'll post cover art, back cover blurbs, author bios, and links for your rafflecopter prizes.

In between all this fun, I'll post when I have something important to say, so please follow my blog by email (entry field to the right) so you won't miss anything.

And Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Festivus, enjoy a lovely new Dr. Who, and have a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's a party! A release launch party for Third Daughter

If you've been waiting for the release of Susan Kaye Quinn's Third Daughter like I have - here it is!

What happens when you mix steampunk and bollywood? 


Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn
(The Dharian Affairs Trilogy #1)
Publication date: December 13th 2013
Adult, Fantasy,
Romance, Steampunk
The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.
Add to your Goodreads shelf!
Here's an excerpt:

Chapter One, Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1) – steampunk fantasy romance

The cloudless night whispered sweet promises to Aniri.

Below her stone rooftop, the shadows of the forested grounds danced in the summer’s breeze, their small rustlings calling to her like a lover. The sound was the perfect cover for escape into the darkness and the warm arms she hoped to find there. No one should notice her absence. Of all the guards, handmaidens, and many silent keepers of the royal household, none would venture up to her private observatory this late in the eve. But she still had to be careful. Even this close to her birthday, the Queen would not be forgiving if she was caught.

Aniri scanned the palace grounds to make sure it was clear of any witnesses. The manicured lawns were empty: the only sign of life came from the distant embassy windows where gas lamps flickered and soft music trilled from late-reveling partygoers. Aniri pressed the leather eyecup of her aetherscope to her face, slowly turning the brass knobs to bring the party into focus. The instrument was meant for watching the rise of the twin full moons, but it worked well enough for spying on the Samirian ambassador and her assemblage of guests.

Their shiny new automaton was thick-legged and awkward, but the Samirian tinker’s design was still clever: the steam-driven mechanical wonder actually danced, albeit just one clumsy pirouette after another. When it came to a graceless stop, the guests snapped their fingers in appreciation. The faint sound of their applause drifted over the lawn, but the party continued on. With the grounds still empty, Aniri swung her aetherscope to the forest. The broken edges of the river snaked through the darkened trees, slipped under a stone bridge, and then flowed past the red sandstone walls of the Queen’s estate. A black shape darted out from under the bridge, then disappeared into the shadows between the trees.

Time to go.

She peered over the edge of the balcony. No sense in being caught by someone who snuck out for a dalliance in the dark. With the way clear, she opened the leather satchel at her feet and uncoiled the sheet she had twisted into a rope. Always check your knots, Aniri. Her father’s voice accompanied her on every climb, but she had to wonder what he would have made of this particular one. She rechecked the knots. It would cause quite a stir if she plummeted to her death while climbing down the palace wall.

The massive stone lion that guarded the parapet served as an excellent anchor. She looped the rope around it, then stood on the edge of the wall and leaned out over the blackness. Loop the rope under and between your feet, Aniri. It will carry your weight. Practical advice, but knots would impede her progress, and speed was of the essence. She lowered herself, hand over hand, bracing her feet against the wall. A mossy spot, hidden by the dark and slick with dew, sent her silk slippers pawing rapid-fire several times before she found purchase between the giant stone blocks.

Always use the proper equipment. She took a deep breath. Her father would probably disapprove of her attire. Silk nightclothes were hardly climbing wear, and she couldn’t find any plausible excuse to wear her climbing shoes to bed. Her handmaiden, Priya, was far too clever for that—and already suspicious when Aniri wanted to retire to her observatory alone. At least she had her fingerless climbing gloves, and on every climb she wore the thin, braided bracelet her father gave her. For luck. She thought he would approve.

Hand over hand, Aniri continued her descent. Halfway down, a sudden clacking broke the quiet and rose above the scrapings of her slippers on the treacherous walls. She held still against the cool stone, hands gripped tight on her rope of sheets. A lone two-wheeled surrey ambled out of the shadows of the Samirian embassy and headed toward her dark corner of the Queen’s estate. Aniri held her breath and silently cursed the full two-moon night. If the carriage came much closer, the occupants would surely see her clinging to the side of the palace like a spider on her thread.

The six-hooved beast pulling the surrey slowed as it neared the giant stone statue of Devkasera. The mother goddess of ancient Dharia loomed larger-than-life, threatening the carriage with a sword and a scroll—the powers of destruction and creation—clasped in two of her six hands. The Queen loved the ancient traditions, so the goddess held a place of respect in the middle of the palace lawns. Aniri preferred the clean streets and steam-driven inventions of modern Dharia to the unwashed feet and mystic religion of her country’s past, but that didn’t stop her from sending a silent prayer to Devkasera—for invisibility for herself or perhaps a sudden loss of sight by the persons in the carriage.

The surrey paused at the statue, then veered right and headed for the far wall that enclosed the estate. Aniri repressed a laugh—perhaps she should pray to Devkasera to bring her birthday sooner as well. Her arms ached from holding her position, but she waited until the carriage had passed through the palace gate. Beyond it, the lights of Kartavya, Dharia’s capital city, winked through the coal-smoke haze as if giving her an all-clear signal.

Her muscles rejoiced when she moved again, working her way down the last half of the wall and dropping the final two feet. From there, she scampered over the surrounding manicured hedgerows as if she had fled the palace a hundred times before. Her unbound dark hair flapped behind her, and the cool night breeze fluttered her black silk nightclothes against her skin like a thousand butterfly wings. It was the feeling of freedom breathing against her, and she had to clamp her teeth against the giggle that threatened to ruin her escape.

She slowed and picked her way through the darkened brambles of the forest grabbing at her legs. The first time, she slipped away from dinner in her normal evening attire—a midnight-black corset latched with brass clasps, a starched skirt of blood-red silk, and a sweep of silk over her shoulder for the traditional touch the Queen required. Aniri thought the dark colors would ease her escape, but she had stuck to the needled branches like a royal pincushion. The second time, she cast aside the bodice and most of the silk, keeping only her short bloomers and camisole—essentially running through the forest in her unmentionables. That had been deliciously decadent, but also very chilly. This time, her nightclothes were proving the most suitable costume yet for midnight escapades.

She smiled and slipped through the forest like a phantom, black on black, silent and stealthy. The faint trace of coal smoke gave way to the fresh scent of leaves mixed with river mist. She breathed it deep: the lushness of it always captivated her. The Queen had imported trees and beasts from the barbarians in the north to recreate the Dharian forests long ago swept away by agriculture. Fortunately, her majesty favored the gentle animals sacred to the gods. Aniri was careful not to disturb a long-tailed bandir hanging from a branch, eyes closed and peaceful. She didn’t believe the superstitions about waking one, but she couldn’t afford the screech it would let loose.

Aniri broke out of the forest and onto the wet rocks bordering the river. The footbridge ahead was a silent sentinel over the constant chatter of the river. There was no sign of movement. Was she too late? But then Devesh stepped from the shadows, showing his face to the moons as if he had nothing to hide.

She skittered over the slippery rocks and flew into his arms.

“Aniri,” he said, but she was uninterested in wasting precious moments with words. She shut him up with her lips pressed fiercely to his. He closed his dark, humor-filled eyes, and wrapped his arms around her. Being a courtesan, he was well-trained in courtly conversation, but the artistry of his lips moving slow yet urgent against hers made her forget her own name.
How hungry are you to read this? Here's all the links you need.
Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. Her teachers pretended not to notice and only confiscated her stories a couple times.

Susan left writing behind to pursue a bunch of engineering degrees, but she was drawn back to writing by an irresistible urge to share her stories with her niece, her kids, and all the wonderful friends she’s met along the way.

She doesn’t have to sneak her notes anymore, which is too bad.

Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as a much as she can handle.
Author Links:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Kickstarter project - a word game worth supporting!

I usually keep a couple word/letter type games open on my pc while I'm writing, like Boggle and TextTwist. Yeah, there's the risk they can be distracting, but they also help. They're mindless for the most part, but they still require the language side of my brain. So if I get stuck trying to come up with just the right word or need to smooth out a scene, a little detour helps. I think I'm playing, but in the back of my mind, the right words are forming. When I switch back to my ms, there they are, all ready to pour from my fingers to the doc.

I also use short distractions like this for editing. It's important when editing my own, or other's work that I don't get caught up in the actions when I'm looking for details. So I'll read a chapter, play a game, read a chapter.

The author of one of the blogs I follow - Flogging the Quill  - has developed a new word game, great for kids and fun for adults as well. Here's the link - wordzzle-a-nutty-and-educational-wordplay-game. Hmm, maybe we can talk him into an electronic version!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NaNo - the end. Well, not quite.

My NaNo goal was 40k words. Partially because I expect that to be the range of the total word count for this Middlegrade project, and partially because I rarely have time to write on the weekends. Not to mention Thanksgiving and the celebration of the demise of most flies so I can spend more time with the horses.

I didn't quite make 40k. I stopped writing for the month on the 25th at just under 32k. Tuesdays I meet with my in-person critique group and Wednesday we left for Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with family. Seriously, family. I didn't gamble once. I watched, watched people, enjoyed great food, and even went bowling.

In the end, this all worked out great for my book. I'm at the final setup of "All is Lost" and some simmering time (sitting in a vehicle for 12 hours) helped me come up with some great ideas.

I plan to spend December crafting the end of the story, nice and slow. And then on to my favorite part - editing!

I hope everyone out there who tried NaNo came through with a positive experience, regardless of word count. And I'm looking forward to editing your NaNo projects!