Author Goals

New Years.jpg

No, this isn’t a hashtag on instagram or twitter, this is an actual list of author goals for 2016. Feel free to comment below with your own goals for the new year, or if you don’t make goals and resolutions, vague musings on what you might like to do in the new year, with no commitment whatsoever. Whatever your style is, really.

Weapenry and Patchwork Press are getting ready to make 2016 our best writing year yet, and we want all of you to dream big with us. This week, authors are coming together to start thinking about the coming year and all of the books we’re getting ready to write. If we dream big and write all year round, we can easily make this our best year yet!

What is your favorite writing/publishing memory from 2015?

-Publishing Frost was pretty well the highlight! The launch party was absolute chaos and I loved every minute of it.

What story are you most looking forward to working on in 2016?

-Book 2 in the FROST series is in the making, and it’s going to be a long and complicated process (lots of court politics) but I’m game!

Are you the type of person who makes New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not?

-Absolutely! And then I break every single one of them.

What area(s) of your writing/publishing process are you going to work on improving in 2016? (dialogue, marketing, output, pacing, formatting, etc.)

-For writing, I’d like to work on studying the craft more. Reading more articles on plot structure, characters arcs, that sort of thing. Writing is an art, but the best artists also study their craft like it’s a science, and I’d like to be more like that.

-For publishing with PWP, I’d like to get better at organizing my plans for marketing. I’m terribly scatterbrained and never know where to start.

How would you describe a successful publishing year in 2016? What goals are you working toward?

-Have FROST book 2 out. Getting a literary agent. Getting a book deal for my MG work.

If you had to guess, what do you think your biggest challenge will be when it comes to publishing and writing next year?

-Organizing my insane schedule. I need an additional brain. Or just someone to make lists for me and tell me where to show up.

How far ahead do you plan your writing schedule? Do you prefer to prepare or to see where your muses take you?

-I usually know what book I’m going to write next, and that’s about as far ahead as I think.

Tell us about something non book related that you’re currently looking forward to for 2016.

-Living a healthier life. We’ll see how that one goes.

If you could offer up one piece of advice to other authors and writers for 2016, what would it be?

-Keep writing. And whatever it is you want for you and your writing, keep going after it. If you have enough passion (see also, obsession) you’ll meet your goals someday.

 

What about you? What goals (bookish and otherwise) are you planning to work toward in 2016? Let us know in the comments! Weapenry will be giving away ebook packs of both Refilling Your Inkwell by Kellie Sheridan, and Surviving First Drafts by Erica Crouch to three randomly selected commenters across the posts going up this week. Be sure to either include your email address or to Tweet at us @patchwork_press along with your goals so we can get in touch if you win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/55514420@N00/16166275825″>New Year 2015 Fireworks</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

 

 

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A Halloween Story: The Midnight Dinner Society

He was twenty-three when the first invitation came. Flush with the vibrancy of youth, dressed in stiff suit jackets and wrapped in the kind of confidence that only comes with academic achievement. The ink on his bachelor degree—hanging proudly on the wall of his office at home—was practically still wet.

The invitation was printed on linen paper, the kind that usually proclaims that “Mr. and Mrs. So and So would like to cordially invite you to the wedding of their beloved daughter…” but this had nothing to do with weddings, which he disliked on general principle. This was an invitation that he’d been convinced he might never receive, and if he’d dared to dream, in his daydreams he’d been old and grey, stooped, wearing a tweed jacket with worn elbows, nursing a bad smoker’s cough perhaps. He could never kick the smoking habit, even now that it was no longer fashionable.

But here was the invitation, just shy of his twenty-fourth birthday. It set his hands trembling and his heart drumming furiously against his ribcage. The crisp linen paper had only six words on the front.

You are cordially invited to dinner.

He could only imagine the reactions of his friends. The jealousy disguised as admiration. They’d laughed at him once, when he’d mentioned the society. That a man of his age would believe an urban legend. There was no Midnight Dinner Society, they told him. There was no secret meetings where the greatest scholars and scientists shared their secrets in the flickering candlelight. What a ridiculous idea.

Their laughter had crept into the back of his skull and stayed there, keeping him awake at night, body stiff with fury, fingers knotted in the covers. But now they would have to shake his hand and slap him on the back like they were happy for him. When they get home they’d complain to their wives and girlfriends.

That Harvey, they’d complain, Lucky bastard got an invitation. Got THE invitation. Haven’t I worked just as hard as he has? Haven’t I got the same degree?

They’d be right to be jealous.

His hands shook and the invitation trembled, fluttered like dove wings. He knew what was on the back, but turned it over anyways. The address blazed across the centre in black ink.

1116 Pickard Place.

It would be this Friday. It was always Friday, at least, if the rumours were to be believed. He checked his day planner, smoothing his fingers over the glossy leather cover, fidgeting as he took in the dates. Wednesday. It was Wednesday now, and that gave him two days to plan. Two days to think out what to wear, what to say, how to act. His mind worked out the hours, minutes, seconds, tallying up the numbers. He was always thinking in numbers. Two days gave him endless time.

His nerves were jangling already, raw and buzzing. The office seemed suddenly small as he paced back and forth. He couldn’t tell his friends, he remembered that now. If you told anyone, the invitation would be revoked. If just he had a wife, a girlfriend, even a roommate. Someone to talk to. Even if he couldn’t tell them exactly what he’d been invited to, he could tell them how prestigious it was. Women didn’t need to have things explained to them in detail, particularly not when it was something academic. His girlfriends in the past, the good ones, had just been happy for him, even when he’d said they wouldn’t understand exactly what he’d achieved, but that it was good. They’d been happy to celebrate with him.

The apartment seemed quieter than usual.

Friday stretched out forever, long and lazy and reluctant to be over. Every second seemed like forever. At eleven he put on his very best suite, the one with ascot instead of the tie. A bit pretentious if he was going anywhere else but this.  In silence he stood before the mirror, worrying at his cuff links, then his hair, making sure every bit had been jelled into place. He cut a heroic figure, the type of man who could recite entire text books, but capture a woman forever with one promising look. It occurred to him that there could be women at tonight’s dinner. That the Midnight Society might have given in to that way of thinking. Everything was political correctness and kowtowing these days, wasn’t it? It didn’t have to be right, it just had to be equal. A nonsensical, feel-good way of thinking of things.

It hardly mattered though. The highest rewards were still reserved for those who earned them. If there were women there, there wouldn’t be many. He straightened his ascot again and looked at the clock.

At eleven-thirty he walked slowly down the hall, past the kitchen, into the foyer. He slid into his jacket and buttoned it slowly, all the way up to his chin. The house was dark and silent. It was good to be leaving it behind. For brighter things, for better things.

On the doorstep he paused, winter air burning his lungs. There was a map in the car, in the compartment beside his seat, and it would be easy to find the place. In fact, he was pretty sure he’d heard of Pickard Place before. It was an industrial area, nothing there.

The address lead him to a warehouse, a nothing place in the middle of nowhere, a building that crouched on its patch of land like a hungry dragon, algae-stained walls bowing inwards like fleshless ribs. He parked on the street beneath the “no parking” sign, standing before the warehouse for a few seconds, letting the cold air and the smell of garbage assault his senses.

This place didn’t seem right. It was supposed to be the most prestigious of meeting places, hallowed ground of the greatest scholars from all over the world, not a place where drug pushers and whores might meet.

For the first time a flash of cold doubt seized his heart. Had he been played for a fool? Was the invitation in his pocket someone’s idea of a joke? He thought about turning around to leave, climbing back into the safety of his car and driving home. But then he would never know if he was the victim of a cruel prank, or if he really had been invited by the society.

He approached the building as if it really were a sleeping monster, treading softly down the sidewalk to the cavernous mouth of the warehouse, a door that hung crooked on its hinges like a broken tooth. Once over the threshold the sound of broken glass under foot made his teeth grit together, and he paused, letting his eyes slowly adjust to the darkness inside. It was empty, filled with dust and garbage. Piles of scrap metal collected in drifts over the floor. Cobwebs draped from the corners and dangled from the beams of the ceiling.

Anger slowly grew in the pit of his stomach. He’d been invited to an abandoned warehouse full of garbage. Was that what these people, these pranksters, thought he was…garbage?

An orange light at the very back of the warehouse flared, making him stiffen and raise one hand to shield his eyes. The light faded, then brightened once more.

There was a doorway at the back. He moved as if in a dream, ignoring the foolishness of it, lured toward the beacon. Though piles of broken glass and metal littered the floor, his feet seemed to find a clear path.

The second doorway lead into a wide room, a room so big that the orange light was swallowed before it could reach the walls or ceiling. The light itself was coming from a wrought-iron lantern sitting at the center of a very long table. There was a strange, low whirring noise from the table that made the hairs on the back of his neck prickle.

A whisper of fabric, and a second light flickered into existence, revealing its bearer as he walked toward Harvey, a heavy-set man in an immaculately pressed suite and a silver tie. Harvey stared, taken aback by the presence of a gentleman in this place.

“Ah…hello. Is this the place…er, you know…where they meet?” He wasn’t sure how much he was supposed to say.

The man’s face was absent of all expression as he gestured to the table, sweeping one gloved hand outwards. He said nothing, but the meaning was clear enough. Sit.

Harvey turned to look, about to protest, but something had changed with the lighting of the second lantern. The table was set for a dinner party, draped in a white linen table cloth. There were seven spots, each set with glistening silver placeware. Ivy had been arranged artfully down the center of the table, curling around several large candelabras. But the most impressive thing of all, the thing that made Harvey’s protests die away before he could voice them, was the centerpiece in the middle of it all.

It was a giant, clockwork timepiece, something made of gears and wheels that spun and ticked a whirred, creating that low hum he’d heard when he first came in. Brass, needle-like hands crept over a clock-face made of glossy stone, and wisps of steam hissed out with each tick of the second hand.

11:45. It had been less than five minutes since he’d stood at the entrance of this building and wondered if someone was playing a joke on him.

The butler – that’s what he had to be, Harvey decided – was leaning over the table, lighting each candle from the candelabras now, slowly and ponderously, a job that was surely going to take an eternity at the pace he was going. Gradually the room grew lighter as he did, revealing a high, vaulted ceiling and a fireplace at the back, one made of black marble that glistened wetly in the orange light of the flames. There were stone lion statues on either side of the sooty grate. One sat regally upright, still and watching. The other crouched low and feral, mouth forever open in a silent roar.

Nervous, Harvey shifted, taking in the rest of the room. Above the table hung a giant chandelier, tear-shaped drops of crystal glittering as they swung ever so slightly. There was a second door at the back of the room, beside the fireplace. Perhaps that’s where the butler had come from. Clearly the man had been waiting here for him to arrive. For the others to arrive.

He ran his hands over his suite jacket, licking his lips. Where were the others? He was eager to meet the regulars, and it was nearly midnight.

The butler finished lighting the candles. He turned away from the table and stooped over the fireplace, moving the grate aside. Harvey was just making to stand, to demand the silent man speak up and tell him what was going on. But there was a sound that froze his voice in his throat.

The tell-tale click, click of high heels on cement.

And then the second guest was in the doorway, and she was a woman. A very beautiful woman in a green evening gown, with dark glossy hair piled on top of her head and large expressive eyes. She belonged in magazines and movies, but not here. Not at a secret midnight dinner.

The woman smiled at him with red, red lips, and made her way silently over to the chair across from him. When she came closer her features triggered a memory of something unpleasant. He had seen her on the front of magazines. No, not magazines, newspapers. He hadn’t bothered to learn her name, but he knew she was famous. A woman scholar, someone specializing in languages.

He could feel his own face tighten in response, forcing a smile, masking the disapproval. He was a guest here, and no matter what he thought, he had to be polite. A display of manners in the face of something you found unpleasant was the mark of a true gentleman.

The arrival of a second guest became a merciful distraction, a pair of them, two men in neat pin-striped suites. They tipped their hats to the lady and gave Harvey a careful nod before seating themselves, one on either side of him. The brothers had been featured in one of his favourite science magazines last year. Harvey’s face grew warm, his cheeks burning slightly.

He felt small, an unpleasant thing to feel.

Third to arrive was a tall, spindly man whose suite looked as though it had shrunk, revealing his thin wrists and ankles. The way he scuttled across the floor and settled into his seat reminded Harvey of a spider, and he barely looked around at the others at the table.

A pale, twitchy man. Decidedly a beta type.

Harvey disliked him immediately.

The fifth and last guest, was another woman, and one that set Harvey’s teeth on edge even more than the first one had. She was solid and firm and dressed in a pant-suit. She squared her shoulders like a man after she sat down, and kept shoving her glasses up her nose aggressively while she looked around the table.

The twitchy man broke the silence. “Wh-where’s the…there’s only six of us.”

A smooth voice spoke up from beside the fireplace. “Yes, and Mr. Taylor apparently thought it acceptable not to show up.”

“But the…num-number seven—”

“It will still work.” The butler stepped out of the shadows, folding his hands in front of him, smiling around at the dinner guests. “Do not fear. Mr. Taylor is being dealt with.”

The twitchy man shuddered, and Harvey sat back in his seat. Was this Mr. Taylor being kicked out of the society? So they didn’t forgive absences, that was something to note for the future.

The butler cleared his throat and then drifted back into the shadows. It seemed to be a signal that only the others understood, because they all sat up a little straighter. The woman in the pant-suite straightened her shoulders again, her thin lips pressed together. The brother leaned forward slightly and exchanged a look across Harvey’s line of vision, making him feel like he was intruding on something.

Then the twitchy man gave one sharp jerk of his shoulders, as if he’d been shocked by something, and scrambled to his feet. He began to speak haltingly, clearing his throat and smacking his lips between every sentence.

“Uh, this year I tra-travelled to Berlin. They’re making great leaps and b-bounds in heart transplant technology. I learned from one of the top surgeons there, a new t-t-technique…” He stammered to a halt, and for several painful seconds, simply moved his lips helplessly, while nothing came out. Finally he appeared to catch his breath. “Also, I attended a conference while I was there, three days of in-intense lecturing.”

He fell silent, and Harvey’s shoulders slumped as the twitchy man sat down. Just watching him stumble over his words like a buffoon had been painful. He blinked as the brothers on either side of him stood. “We discovered a new ship wreck this year,” said the first brother. His face was eager, cheeks flushed as he gestured with his hands. “We’ve documented it extensively.”

The other brother added, “It appears it was another ship full of immigrants much like the Mayflower, only this one never made it. We’ve uncovered records of the families that were on the ship, and we’re putting together an extensive history.”

Next up was the woman in the green dress. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes glittering. There was something about her that vibrated beneath the surface, though her face looked outwardly calm. “I travelled to Egypt, Cairo this year, and we think we’ve uncovered the roots of a new language, one that was use by the Enocians there. I’ve begun to learn as much as I can of it.”

There was silence after this statement, brief, and loaded with something that Harvey couldn’t interoperate. The woman in the green dress sat down so suddenly that she nearly knocked her wine glass over, and the brothers exchanged another long look across Harvey, who crossed his arms and frowned at the table top.

Perhaps the others were uncomfortable with the idea of a woman making discoveries like that. What if she missed something? Emotions so often caused distraction in women. To trust something as vital as the discovery of a new language to this woman, with her pouty lips and smokey eye-makeup…it didn’t make sense.

He barely heard the man-like woman speaking. He thought it was something about teaching a writing class, nothing impressive. It was hard to look away from the woman in the green dress. She was no longer flushed, in fact, the blood seemed to have drained out of her face, and she refused to look at anyone, staring only at the table top, fastening her eyes on the ticking clock at the center of the table.

Eleven minutes to midnight, the clock said.

Then it was his turn, at least, everyone was looking at him, so he assumed it was his turn. Heart racing, he stood up, feeling his knees threaten to give way beneath him.

“I, um…” he hated himself for the hesitation. He wasn’t like the twitchy man. He was a man. He was assertive, sure of himself. He pressed forward. “This year I achieved a PHD in history.” He hesitated, unsure if he was meant to go on. But the others shifted their eyes to the shadows behind him, so he sat, taking a deep breath to calm himself. It seemed that was all that was expected of him this time around.

Flames were crackling in the grate now, and the butler, who had been warming himself with his back to the guests, turned around. A silver tray was balanced on one hand, and as he moved closer Harvey could see a circular ring of leaves rested on the tray, deep green and glossy.

“The laurel crown.” The butler drew his thin lips back, showing receding gums and crooked teeth. The first time he’d actually smiled, Harvey realized. It wasn’t pretty.

“I think we all know who has earned the crown this year.”

The woman in the green dress sat up straight in her chair, and Harvey felt a flash of envy and hatred so intense that his mask nearly broke down. His polite smile nearly slipped. Everyone was looking at her, the smug little bitch. She just expected this, and clearly everyone else did too.

The butler glided around the table, placing the silver tray directly in front of the woman, as if he were serving her dinner. Carefully he reached down and picked up the laurel leaves. The woman in the green dress closed her eyes as he placed the crown on her head.

Then the butler was gone, replaced by a pair of heavy set men in black pin-stripe suites that Harvey hadn’t even noticed up until then. But they had been leaning against the wall behind the woman while the butler had put the crown on her head. He knew that, he’d just been distracted, wallowing in irritation and jealousy.

The men stood on either side of the woman in the green dress, who finally opened her eyes, and slowly stood. They pulled her chair back, moving in perfect synchronicity, the one on the left offering his elbow. She took it delicately, eyes wide, lashes fluttering. Something in her pale throat moved as she swallowed once, twice. A muscle in her jaw ticked and fluttered. Then they were leading her away from the table, towards the door at the back of the room. Harvey fixed his eyes on the tumble of curls that fell between her shoulder blades, and the sharp green of the laurel crown against her black hair.

Moments later she was gone, vanishing behind the closed door. The only indication she’d ever been there was her empty chair.

The brothers on either side of him and the woman in the pant-suit struck up a conversation about politics. Even the twitchy man coughed into his hand a few times before joining in, his voice growing less shaky as the minutes went by.

Harvey should have been listening to them talking. He should have been joining in, even. He often complained to anyone who would listen that there was a shortage of intellectually stimulating conversation in the world. But he seemed to be entranced by the sight of the closed door, he couldn’t tear his eyes away from it.

Twenty minutes went by, then thirty. The others kept the discussion going, and occasionally they would try to draw him into it. The woman in the pant-suit even directed an encouraging, motherly smile at him, as if she thought he were merely shy. Harvey bared his teeth back at her in what he thought was a smile, and she leaned back in her chair, brows raised.

One of the brothers spoke up hastily. “It’s strange at first, we know.”

“You get used to it,” his brother added.

“It’s even worth it,” the twitchy man said. He was far less twitchy now. His stammer seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. “The knowledge is worth it.”

At last the door in the back opened, and the butler entered, pushing a silver dinner cart before him. “Dinner is served.”

A silver domed platter was set in front of each dinner guest, the butler moving fluidly between them, silent as he laid dinner on the table. The other guests no longer spoke, nor did they make eye contact with one another. The woman in the pant-suit no longer smiled. Harvey wondered if he was expected to lift the dome from the platter, or if the butler did it for them. Nobody was touching it, so he sat back in his chair and waited.

At last the butler stood at the end of the table and clasped his hands together. The orange candlelight flickered over his face, painting his features in fire. “We give thanks to for this meal, not to any god, created by man, not to the earth, plowed and tilled by man’s hand, but to knowledge itself, which is so vigorously searched for and so rarely found.”

The others chorused back as one, “To knowledge,” which made Harvey jump. He saw that they were all reaching for the silver handle on the platter, and quickly moved to do the same.

As he pulled the lid away, steam wafted up, bathing his cheeks and forehead. The scent, that of a rich and hearty stew, immediately set his mouth to watering. The broth was thick and light brown, chunks of vegetables and perfectly cooked meet showing just beneath the surface. It reminded him of the stew him mother used to make, before she left.

The broth was seasoned thickly with herbs, several of them whole leaves floating on the surface. Sharp green against the darkness. Laurel leaves.

Harvey braced his hands against the table,  stomach turning.

“We imbibe the knowledge of the past to show us the discoveries of the future.” It seemed like voice was coming from somewhere else. His own head maybe. The butler had vanished, but it was his voice, deep and velvety, soothing.

“We become great scholars, gods and goddesses. Tasting the fruit of knowledge that the world has declared forbidden. Only this way can we achieve more than anyone else. You can drink now, and be one of us. Achieve more, become more. Be the best in your field. You will receive fame and money, you will be lauded by your peers. Or you can walk away now and never come back.”

Harvey picked up his spoon. It vibrated in his hand, clunking against the table.  Around him, there was only the gentle scrape of cutlery on china.

“Drink and become more.”

He dipped his spoon in, just the tip of it. Letting the liquid slide on, thick and steaming, impossibly dark against the silver spoon. In the darkness the voice whispered.

“Drink.”

Harvey lifted the spoon to his lips and closed his eyes.

He drank.

THE END.

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How to Beat Writer’s Block

It’s always hard starting a new project. I found out this week that it’s especially hard starting book 2 in a series. When I talked to other authors, they agreed with me, they dread chapter one of book 2.

I have no idea why that is, but I had to go back and watch my own video to make myself start! At least I can convince myself if no one else.

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On Paper Books (and Libraries)

libraries

 

The other day I had an argument online (you know that’s never going to end well) after I posted what I thought was a fairly innocuous little vlog about how much I love libraries. How, as a child, I always longed after the library in The Beauty and the Beast.

Someone commented on this post on my facebook, stating that no one should read paperbooks anymore, since we’re killing trees for them, and ebooks are the way of the future. Paper books are a fad that needs to die out.

Here’s the thing, it may be true that ebooks are the way of the future. I don’t disagree with that.

They’re lighter, easier to carry from place to place with you, cheaper to buy. There are many reasons that ebooks are better than paper books.

But I’m not going to feel guilty for loving paper books. There are many things that are killing this world and destroying the environment. There are many things that humans should feel guilty for. I should feel guilty for running too much water when I shower too long. I should feel guilty for throwing away too many plastic water bottles. For letting the car run for an extra fifteen minutes that one time. For littering.

Don’t ask me to feel guilty for loving books. I never will.

When I buy a book, it gets loved. I read it and keep it, reserving a spot for it on my shelf. Months later, if I particularly loved the book, I’ll reread it. Twice, maybe three times. I’ll lend it out to friends. I’ll use it to prop my vlogging camera up on. I’ll dip back into it to see what that particular writer did to evoke that particular emotion  I had, or just for inspiration if I’m feeling stuck.

I cannot dream surrounded by ebooks. I cannot bask in the smell of them. I do not feel joy lift my heart and chest when I see the shelves upon shelves of electronic files all around me. So no…to me, ebooks are not better.

I don’t have anything against them, actually. I just bought my first kindle (look at me go, technology!  Wow!) but I’m not going to stop buying paper books. I’m not going to stop enjoying the feeling of cracking the spine for the first time, or running my fingers over a beautiful, embossed cover, or displaying them on my shelves according to color and size. There will never be a day when that happens.

I don’t know what this post was meant to be. It started out a rant, I think, and progressed into a love poem to books. I think I’m okay with that. I think it’s a better note to end on.

 

In case you’re wondering, here’s the (apparently) not so innocuous video that triggered it all:

 

 

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/26037487@N02/2768700279″><untitled> 194</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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The Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology

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As someone who’s written a book based on Norse mythology—which is something that Marvel has used very freely—I’m used to getting questions like, “Is this a fanfic?” and, “Did you copy Thor?”

The answer is no, and no again. And also, I thought I’d write you a blog post about Norse Mythology and how awesome it is.

Norse Mythology originates from the northernmost parts of Europe. Most of what we know today comes from medieval texts, written in Iceland for the most part. Marvel has taken it and added what they like to it (which is fine, so have I). For example, in most of the texts, Thor is actually a hammer-wielding ginger. Not a blond, as the movies portray him. Creative license can be used with mythology, since there are many interpretations.

If you’re very familiar with Norse Mythology, this will be old hat for you. But for those who are new to it, here’s a brief run-down of the nine words. A beginner’s guide, if you will:

Basically, the nine worlds are hanging out on this massive ash tree called The World Tree (or Yggdrasil, if you want to get fancy).

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  • Vanaheim

The Vanis are gods associated with fertility and nature, as well as predicting the future. Other than that, the ancient texts are pretty quiet about what kind of world Vanaheim was. We do know that they went to war with Asgard though.

 

  • Asgard

Most people have a passing familiarity with the name, thanks to Marvel. Asgard is the home of the gods. It’s where Odin hangs out. It’s also where the Vikings believed Valhalla was located. There are loads of details in the old texts about Asgard. Suffice to say, that a lot of drinking and partying went on there.

  • Alfheim

Alfheim is the home of the light elves. On the World Tree it sits right next to Asgard. Alfheim is actually only mentioned a couple times in the old texts, but we are told the light elves are “fairer to look upon than the sun”.

  • Svartalfheim

Pretty much the opposite of Alfheim. The dark elves are “black as pitch” and hate the sun. It’s unclear whether the texts make the occupants of Svartalfheim out to be actual elves (like in Alfheim) or Dwarves, as there is some reference to both.

  • Nidavellir

Home of the Dwarves. The Dwarves are master craftsman, and have gifted the gods with things like Thor’s hammer, a ship called Skidbladnir that fits in one’s pocket (very handy) and a golden boar that can run through air and water. There is some debate over Nidavellir and Svartalfheim. Some say they are joined, and occupied by two different races who share the lands.

  • Midgard

Midgard is the visible world. The human world. It sits right next to Jotunheim and under Asgard on the World Tree. When they created the world, the gods fenced Midgard off so the Jotun couldn’t get in. During Ragnarok (the end times), Midgard sinks into the sea and then emerges again.

  • Jotunheim

Clearly my favorite world. Jotunheim is also called “Utgard” in Old Norse, which means “Beyond the Fence”.  Jotunheim is described as an eternal winter, a place full of thick forests and towering mountains. It’s a little wild and a little dangerous. The perfect place to set a story!

  • Muspelheim

Realm of the Fire Giants. The loose interpretation of the word Muspelheim is “end of the world through fire”, and some think the Fire Giants are bound to cause Ragnarok, which is why the Queen in FROST has a mad obsession with killing off every Fire Giant in sight. During Ragnarok, the Fire Giant Surt (the black one) shows up with a flaming sword to slay the gods.

  • Helheim

The daughter of Loki, Hel, is the ruler of the underworld. It is under some debate if the goddess Hel is a personification of the underworld. She is said to live in a vast mansion with many rooms, and has the power to resurrect the dead (as she does with the god Baldr).

So Norse mythology is pretty badass. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Er…tree branch. If you haven’t looked into it much, I suggest checking it out. If that seems like a lot of work, you can always read FROST when it comes out.

By Thor’s hammer, that was a subtle pitch!

Frost Front Cover

 

 

Stock Photos:

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/12706161@N03/14094740756″>Canon EOS 60D – Harry Potter – Ice Palace</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/98799884@N00/3108827633″>December Moonlight 4</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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FROST: Cover Reveal

Announcing the official unveiling of the cover for FROST! I’m so excited to show this bad boy off! Without further adieu:

FROST cover

Back Cover Description:

Megan Walker’s touch has turned to ice. She can’t stop the frost, and the consequences of her first kiss are horrifying.

When her new powers attract attention, Megan finds herself caught up in an ancient war between Norse giants. One side fuelled by a mad queen’s obsession and an ancient prophecy about Ranorak, the other by an age-old grudge. Both sides believe Megan to be something she’s not. Both sides will stop at nothing to have her.

Fire or frost. It’s an impossible decision, but she’ll have to act soon, because the storm is coming.

And there was much rejoicing! Also, preorders are up! Those who preorder are also eligible for a wicked awesome contest where you can win a chance to be an “extra” in book 2! More details about the contest are coming soon. But in the meantime, if you preorder, be sure to hold onto your email receipt, or screenshot the little “thank you for ordering” after it comes up!

Preorder here:

AMAZON

AMAZON.CA

KOBO

ITUNES

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Haters Gonna Hate (Things That Teenage Girls Like)

taylor_swift2Sometimes when I get irritated I listen to “Shake it Off” on repeat, y’know, just to lighten my mood. I’m doing that right now.

If you’re not sure what all the fuss about Taylor is lately, it’s because the singer went up against big company Apple Music and told them (in the most polite open letter in the entire world) that artists deserve to be paid for their work. And holy crap what a NOVEL idea. The best part is that Apple listened, and they changed what they were planning to do. Which, if you’re wondering, was not pay artists for THREE MONTHS (good luck with your rent, suckers)!

But this post isn’t about artists getting paid for their art (believe me you, that’s coming later) what this post is about, is the giant amount of hate that has sprung from this “altercation”. People just LOVE to hate on Taylor Swift. It’s a dogpile over on twitter. People saying she only did it for the money, that’s she’s greedy and vile and only thinks of herself. The thing is, what she did helped thousands of indie artists and small singer/songwriters scrambling to pay for food and rent. But the haters DON’T CARE. They only care about jumping on the hatred bandwagon.

Because that’s what’s popular. We’re allowed to hate Taylor Swift, One Direction and Justin Bieber, because that’s what TEENAGE GIRLS like. We’re allowed to hate Twilight and rip it apart all over the internet, encouraged to. This is a very real thing, so much so that it’s become a big topic. There are blogs about “Things I Hate About Teenage Girls” and “Why You Shouldn’t Hate Teenage Girls”. I mean, WHAT? That blows my mind. How did this become acceptable? How did this become normal?

Why are teenage boys not getting the same hate? Because they’re not. Not even close.

jackiechan

This needs to not be okay anymore. When we see it happening, we need to take a stand. Call people out. Tell them it’s not acceptable. Because every time I come across an entire comment section of vile hatred, I think “Do you really hate Taylor Swift, or have you come here to comment because you know it’s the popular thing to do?”

And there’s something very wrong about that question. Haters gonna hate, but that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate it.

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Release Day: Polaris Awakening

Polaris-Awakening

It’s release day for Polaris Awakening! The science fiction anthology is now out from Patchwork Press and is already on one of the best seller charts on Amazon!

Featuring an all female line-up of authors (rare in science fiction) and a set of stories based on greek mythology and linked by the space station Polaris. The description is below:

ZEUS PROTOCOL 000101:
REBOOT, SCAN.
DANGER DETECTED.
THREAT LEVEL: UNKNOWN.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: INCREASE MILITARY PRESENCE.
There’s trouble brewing on Polaris. Under the watchful eye of the space station’s supercomputer, Zeus, the lower classes are awakening to the corruption of their wealthy, privileged, and protected leaders. When the quiet voices of protest get louder and alliances form, change dawns on the horizon. But the small acts of resistance won’t be enough to subvert the system for long. Zeus is alert to the growing threat level, and he will do whatever’s necessary—including purging the lower levels of Polaris—to preserve stability for all.
Inspired by the mythology of the constellations hung around Polaris, the seven stories in Polaris Awakening reimagine the classic characters in a futuristic world where alien creatures are commonplace, combat arenas are used for entertaining foreign dignitaries, slaves and soldiers stand side by side, and music orchestrates a revolution. And their first acts of defiance are just the beginning. Polaris will never be the same.
ZEUS PROTOCOL 000099: ENGAGE THREAT.
You can order your copy here.

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Strangest Book Covers

As an author, you don’t get to pick your book cover, you can only hope you get something you love. So for some of the authors below, these covers must have seemed like a total nightmare. Others have simply picked really, really bad titles. All of them are great for a laugh.

Oh, Piers Anthony. One can only ask why? Even if that was a central theme of the book, just…no. This is a case of the author picking a really, really bad title.

After I recovered from my fit of screaming, and upon further examination, I can only conclude that what you are looking at is a crocodile in a dress. Poor bastard (the author I mean, not the crocodile).

It doesn’t happen often, but I’m nearly lost for words here. This is weirdly specific. Saddle up? Ahem…

Oh my, they don’t beat around the bush, do they? I wonder if the entire title fits on the spine?

Ew. That is all.

 Captain! We’re being attacked by a fleet of magical flying dildos!

I think I laughed for about fifteen minutes. Yes, mature of me, I know.

I’m just picturing what led up to this. The author likes one title, the agent another, the publisher another. So they jam them all together, stick in some commas and bam! Awesome title!

Ah yes, the rare and elusive shopping cart in it’s natural environment. Careful now, don’t get too close! They’ve been known to run over people’s feet.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these!

What are some of the strangers book covers you’ve ever seen? Do they beat reptiles in nightgowns?

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Why You Should Wattpad

WattpadLogo-thumb-486x165

There’s a lot of buzz about Wattpad lately. On twitter, on people’s blogs, in Publisher’s Weekly. A lot of people are wondering what Wattpad is exactly, and more importantly,  As a writer, should I be on Wattpad?

As someone who has used Wattpad to build up a core of dedicated readers, and met thousands of awesome people who love books just as much as I do, I’m inclined to say yes. Heck yes, actually.

But there are a few things I always hear people say when they’re thinking of joining, concerns they have. I thought I’d cover a few:

Q) Is writing free stuff really going to sell books?

A) This is a valid question. The thing is, there’s no yes or no answer. I’ve had people tell me sales increased after they posted the first book in a series to Wattpad. I’ve also had people tell me they don’t think it’s working. It depends on the types of readers you get, it depends on what your book is like, it depends on the phase of the moon.

Okay, not that last bit. But you know what I mean. That’s a bit like saying, “If I publish a book, will people buy it?” Well, maybe they will. Hopefully. But there’s really no guaranteeing either way, is there? Some people might tell you putting your work for free on Wattpad won’t sell books, but I’m sure someone like Anna Todd would heartily disagree with them.

But should you throw your work up there expecting it to make the difference between working a full time job, and writing for a living? I’d advise against it. It’s about your mind set. Do it to connect with readers. To form a community, or just to boost your ego a bit (the reader comments can be really lovely) but don’t do it thinking you’re about to become the next NYT best seller. You’ll be disappointed.

But where are my stacks of cash?

                                          But where are my stacks of cash?

Q) Will people steal my work?

A) Good question. The answer is once again, not exactly what you want to hear. The answer is, “It’s possible”. I’ve had people take my most popular story (FROST) a number of times. It’s never actually people trying to make money from it (not that I’ve experienced). It’s generally teens who don’t seem to realize just how bad plagiarism is. And it’s been pretty easy to get them taken down.

Wattpad has a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism. If it’s someone on the site who’s taken your work, you simply report them and their account will be deleted, sometimes within the hour. If it’s off site, it can be a bit trickier, but my firm (but polite) emails usually work. When they don’t, Wattpad has been known to get involved. They don’t want to see people’s work getting ripped off either.

Should you let the possibility of theft stop you from posting your work? I don’t believe you should.

Q) If I post my manuscript on Wattpad can I still query it to agents?

A) Technically you can still query it, yeah. BUT (there’s always a big but, isn’t there?) for a lot of agents, once it’s out there, they consider it published. I would feel free to post the first chapter if you really want. But not much more than that if you want to be sure. If it’s a critique you’re after, there are forums on Wattpad where you can find another writer and swap beta reads with them.

If you don’t have a spare novel to throw up there, and you don’t have time to write a new one just for Wattpad, put up some old short stories. Or snippets of poetry. Some people even keep a sort of “blog” over there, like an online journal that people actually read.

There have been writers that have queried after they put their novels up on Wattpad, and went on to get book deals. Taran Matharu is one of them. But like so many success stories, he’s the exception to the rule. Not the rule.

So there you go, another wishy washy answer. For myself, I haven’t put anything up there that I intend to query later on. Y’know, just in case my dream agent decides that once it’s out there…it’s out there.

Why it’s Worth it:

My experience on the website has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve met some awesome people on there. The comments on each chapter are overwhelmingly supportive and positive. If I’m having a crappy day, I’ll read through them and find myself grinning like an idiot. I get messages over there, from people that tell me “You inspire me”. That still shocks me.

I’m not a “real” author yet. That would have never been possible a few years ago, before I joined Wattpad. There would have been no way to actually gain readers.

I’ve even become part of a group that hosts twitter chats every Monday. We (quite cheekily) call ourselves “The Wattpad4” and I pretty much talk to them every single day.

I wouldn’t have met them if it wasn’t for Wattpad.

So if you do sign up, here’s my advice: Don’t go into it to gain “fans”. Don’t make it a numbers game. Don’t make it about sales. Sign up for the community. Join the clubs, chat with people. And if you happen to sell a few books while you’re at it, chalk it up as a bonus.

I’m sure there are questions that I’m missing. If anyone has any, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Because I’m incredibly long-winded, this will probably turn into a two part post eventually.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/9731367@N02/7643873724″>100 Dollar Bills</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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