Friday, January 20, 2017

I Survived Blogfest

So you guys know how I love the end of the world, right? So when I saw this blogfest from Chrys Fey as part of her book release, I couldn't resist... Besides, it's tsunami themed!  I have a recurring tsunami dream... of course it turns out I can breathe underwater and that seemed to not fit here, but I do have some attachment to the idea of tsunamis. It is her third installment in her disaster crimes series, with a blurb, details and a contest after blogfest portion of this post... But since this is a blogfest, let's start with that!

I Survived with on-site reporter Chrys Fey (interviewing ME!)

Ecola State Park overlooking Cannon Beach, Oregon
"This is Chrys Fey reporting for Disaster 5 News. I am at Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach, Oregon, where a tsunami hit yesterday morning. I have Hart Johnson with me, a survivor of the tsunami. Hart, can you tell our viewers what happened, and how you survived?"

Hart: Hi Chrys. You know it's funny. I has a trip to Oregon planned when one of my readers, a middle school apocaplyse enthusiast, asked if I'd come talk at their library. While we were at the library we felt the ground rumble, so the librarian found a news site and said it had been an 8.2 earthquake off the coast and that a tsunami was coming. Annika, the gal who invited me, shouted “get to higher ground” to me and then pulled my arm out of the library.

I guess the west coast was about 70 years overdue for a tsunami that comes every 260 years, something Annika chattered at me as she told me to drive. But instead of heading for higher ground, she directed me to her house—she needed to warn her family, you see. At the time I was mad—I thought she'd killed us with the detour, but it seems little Annika not only loves apocalypse tales, but had a plan. It involved two inflatable rafts, three air mattresses, six rolls of duct tape and two coolers of survival gear.

You know, it was close. We had a lot of inflating to do. But her dad and brother helped while her mother pulled together the gear. We set it up in a field behind her house that sits with a protective cove around it, so the water didn't slam us exactly. Some came over the top, but not a ton. Mostly it came around the sides and then back filled, lifting us up. Of course we couldn't see except through the little camera she had outside—one raft was under us, the other over. The air mattresses were to make sure the stuff flying around inside the raft bubble, namely us, didn't hurt anyone else too badly.

Oh, we got tossed over—ended up in the raft that had been over our heads with all our gear upside down. And as the water retreated, it pulled us into a tangle of downed trees. Took a while to get out of that. Even longer to get up here, but it turns out when she said she had survival gear, she meant it—her family has been patching people up and feeding them as they get up here and we wait for the National Guard and whoever else plans to help out.

Title: Tsunami Crimes
Series: Disaster Crimes #3
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Romantic-Suspense
Page Count: 272

BLURB: Beth and Donovan have come a long way from Hurricane
Sabrina and the San Francisco earthquake. Now they are approaching their
wedding day and anxiously waiting to promise each other a lifetime of love. The
journey down the aisle isn’t smooth, though, as they receive threats from the
followers of the notorious criminal, Jackson Storm. They think they’ll be safe
in Hawaii, but distance can’t stop these killers. Not even a tsunami can.

This monstrous wave is the most devastating disaster Beth
has ever faced. It leaves her beaten, frightened. Is she a widow on her
honeymoon? As she struggles to hold herself together and find Donovan, she’s
kidnapped by Jackson's men.

Fearing her dead, Donovan searches the rubble and shelters
with no luck. The thought of her being swept out to sea is almost too much for
him to bear, but the reality is much worse. She’s being used as bait to get him
to fall into a deadly trap.

If they live through this disaster, they may never be the
same again. 



99 CENTS: Amazon
And everywhere ebooks are sold. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 16, 2017

Alternative Anthem

Know how it’s fun to take a song and write alternative lyrics? Usually it is for humorous purpose, and this seems to be something school children arrive at as an activity even without being prompted. I know my friends and I used to do it, and as I’ve met people from other walks of life, I find we aren’t the only people to have done this.

But did you KNOW this used to really be a THING? Like in the 19th century people would write them on broad sheets and distribute them. And then sometimes they would make it to newspapers and other publications. Often the purpose of these was protest, so yesterday, watching the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the University where I work, I had the opportunity to head this one performed.

Written by EA Atlee in 1844 and published in two Abolitionist Papers

1. Oh, say do you hear, at the dawn’s early light,
The shrieks of those bondmen, whose blood is now streaming
From the merciless lash, while our banner in sight
With its stars, mocking freedom, is fitfully gleaming?
Do you see the backs bare? Do you mark every score
Of the whip of the driver trace channels of gore?
And say, doth our star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

2. On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where Afric’s race in false safety reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it heedlessly sweeps, half conceals, half discloses?
’Tis a slave ship that’s seen, by the morning’s first beam,
And its tarnished reflection pollutes now the stream:
’Tis our star-spangled banner! Oh! When shall it wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

3. And where is the band, who so valiantly bore
The havoc of war, and the battle’s confusion,
For Liberty’s sweets? We shall know them no more:
Their fame is eclispsed by foul Slavery’s pollution.
No refuge is found on our unhallowed ground,
For the wretched in Slavery’s manacles bound;
While our star-spangled banner in vain boasts to wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

4. Shall we ne’er hail the day when as freemen shall stand
The millions who groan under matchless oppression?
Shall Liberty’s shouts, in our heaven-rescued land,
Ne’er be shared by the slave in our blood-guilty nation?
Oh, let us be just, ere in God we dare trust;
Else the day will o’er take us when perish we must;
And our star-spangled banner at half mast shall wave
O’er the death-bed of Freedom—the home of the slave.

I felt like that was an appropriate historical reminder for MLK Day, and also maybe a suggestion… we are mostly writers here. And these alternative lyric movements seem like a nice way to make our point.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

An Interview with Christy (aka: Cecelia Earl) on the release of When Ash Rains Down

It's fun to have a friend I've known for a couple years have a first book release, and in spite of the unfamiliar name on the cover, this book is by none other than our friend Christy from Erica and Christy, writing under a pen name (my guess is because teaching is one of those professions where it is best to keep fiction from real life persona). I think it's more fun to do these book release posts as interviews, so Christy was gracious enough to share an ARC of her book with me.

Let me just give you a brief teaser first:

Enter a world where angels and demons battle for souls while hidden from human sight...

Being crowned homecoming queen and enduring a week at the center of her classmates' attention is eighteen-year-old Julia White's worst nightmare--even with Cole, her long-time crush, as her date. But when Julia is attacked by a green-blooded demon that vanishes in a plume of smoke, she comes face to face with what real nightmares look like--in the flesh, and all of the homecoming stuff hardly matters anymore.

As a frightening wave of crime infiltrates her small Wisconsin town, Julia tries to avoid Nicholas, a brooding, infuriating relative of Cole's, who insists she's the reason behind the corruption. He claims the culprits are demons who are after powers that only she--a human-angel hybrid--possesses. It's unbelievable, of course, until he takes her to a hidden battlefield where warrior angels train to fight soul-siphoning demons--and her own angelic wings unfold.

When angels and demons draw battle lines, endangering everyone in their way, Julia has to find a way to protect them all, including herself. Because as it turns out, she's the devil's most powerful weapon against the angels, and he'll stop at nothing to claim her.

The final battle between Heaven and Hell has begun.

*cue spooky music*

And now without further ado... to the interview...

So I want to start a little with the theme of angels and demons. When did you first become interested in them as a paranormal phenomenon?

Ohmygosh…I racked my brain trying to come up with a better answer than…I can’t remember! I wrote When Ash Rains Down (it had a different title back then) in 2012. Or 2013. No! I just spent half an hour looking for when I first wrote it…the summer of 2014!! Anyways, I can only think that I must’ve drawn the “write what you want to read” inspiration card and felt compelled to go with an angel/demon muse coming from a reading binge, probably the Unearthly series, Hush Hush trilogy, Mortal Instrument series, and Infernal Devices series.

I DO remember that it all began because I’d wanted to write a novella to experiment with writing a book with plot and more fast-paced action than I was used to writing with my more lyrical, character-driven, plot-less contemporary realistic manuscripts.

And do you envision all angels and demons are “born” or can other people become one or the other? Do you distinguish between fallen angels and demons?

I don’t believe angels/demons are born, nor can anyone become one. I tried to remain true to my Catholic Christian faith in as many aspects surrounding angels as I could (aside from the completely imaginative fantastical main part of the novel—the hybrid human-angel characters who are born, of course). I believe angels were created at the time of creation and that demons came into existence when the devil challenged God, and lost, taking 1/3 of the angels with him when he left Heaven. I believe fallen angels are demons, same thing. In the book, however, there are angels believed to be fallen that are, in fact…maybe demonic, or maybe…not fully.

Have you found it at all tricky to determine how much religion to come into your stories? Is there a “too much” or “not enough” line for you or have you felt it sort of fell into place organically?

This was probably one of the most difficult aspects of writing this book. I struggled, deliberated, researched, prayed about, discussed, revised, rewrote, and ultimately crossed my fingers and hoped for the best about how to remain authentic and true to my faith without being overbearing or preachy.

This final, published version is quite different from earlier drafts that had a LOT more explicit beliefs included in conversations between Julia and Nicholas (the main character and her angel warrior trainer). When trying to come up with the purpose for her to decide to do as he asked-- to fight demons. Initially my reasons were much more faith-based, without including my faith intentionally. Basing the stakes on my faith, where angels, demons, and souls were concerned, was just the natural way my thought process worked.

It wasn’t until after a (paid) beta reader, hired through my editing company, pointed out that I was really polarizing my readers, that I went back and forth, discussing my story with other Christian and non-believing writers, and finally decided on the amount that exists today. My hope is that other believers see my faith included, but that non-believers, or believers in other religions, read it seeing the story and characters without its faith--or lack-thereof--arising in their thoughts to the extent that they don’t enjoy the book.

Though, I must say, when my dad asked if I write with any purpose, meaning, do I write to convey a faith-based message, I told him it wouldn’t hurt for readers to contemplate whether or not their souls live on since their physical lives are only temporary, whether or not they have angels protecting, and demons preying upon, their souls.

Mostly, though, I wanted to convey a theme of friendship, trust, and forgiveness. And I wanted to tell a story that people got a little lost in, an escape from real life, with characters that readers enjoyed getting to know and want to spend even more time with in the future.

Are any of your characters or any character characteristics based in anyone you know? Or any characters who inspire you?

There was a boy in my high school, years and years and years ago, that loosely inspired Mitch, though Mitch’s character ended up becoming someone quite different. Over the summer, when I was revising the novel, my husband’s uncle showed us the 1953 movie Invaders from Mars while camping, and so he inspired Mitch’s obsession with classic sci-fi.

Other than that, there are probably characteristics of myself in Julia, and Cole and Nicholas are polar opposites, one an extreme of Julia’s personality, the other her flip side. Her character arc will determine who she ends up most like in the end. So…I guess Julia inspired their personalities.

I find Mr. Alex to be inspiring and intriguing. And the peaceful man. I look forward to finding out more about them in future books… wink.

And is your setting a real one? Or is it an “anytown” near where you live? Are there features of the town and setting you felt were critical to the story?

It is an “anytown” in Wisconsin, not based off of any real place that I’ve lived or visited, but it’s most definitely real in my mind after “spending so much time there”. The size of the town, small-ish, is vital to my main character’s school setting as it influences the environment in which she coexists with her peers, as is the small-town diner setting and its necessary neighboring shops and customers, important to her mom, though nameless to Julia. The main street and shops are very like “downtowns” I’ve visited, and even like the ones near where I live, in smaller towns in Wisconsin.

Do you have a specific arch and set number of books planned for your series, or are you setting up a world with broader potential for an undefined number of installations? Want to share a little about your planned pacing for publishing and what we will see from you next?

I do! When Ash Rains Down is the first in a planned trilogy. When Smoke Rains Down’s publication is planned for Spring 2017, and When Fire Rains Down will then be published in Summer 2017. I’m planning at least one series novelette, but probably more. The one I’m ready to write now would fall into the order between books one and two and would be told from the perspective of a female angel you’ve not met, Rach’s Guardian. I’m also planning for a prequel trilogy from the point of view of Julia’s mother, Melissa, about the years when she was a teenager and met her own Guardian Angel, Julia’s dad.

Awesome!  It's great to hear about your book and your process. Thank you!

Thank you so much for having me here today, for taking the time to read my novel, and for preparing these questions for me. These were fun to consider and respond to. And I’m excited to share these tidbits of my writing process and details of my novel(s) with you all. Thanks for visiting, blog readers!

Author Bio

Cecelia Earl graduated with a degree in education and has been teaching ever since. She’s a wife, a mom of three boys, and an owner of a magical laundry pile that never stops growing. She lives near enough to Green Bay, WI that her refrigerator is always stocked with cheese, and the first colors her children learned were green and gold. She’s a teacher by day, a mom always, and a writer in her sleep, but that’s okay because being an author is a dream come true. She writes angel books for young and youngish adults. If you feel young, she writes for you—whether or not you feel particularly angelic.

And you can find Christy/Cecelia and her book at:

Author Facebook Page
Newsletter (for giveaways, updates, exclusive content, etc)

Buy Links:
Amazon Paperback $8.99

Amazon e-book 99 cents/free with KindleUnlimited

Createspace (Paperback) $8.99

So let all your Angel and Demon lover friends know, and go like Cecelia on all her social media. Oh... and buy the book!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rules Schmules

Hallo fine peoples! And welcome to the first 2017 meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

For this month's meeting the question is:

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

But I'm not going to answer the question. At least not exactly. Because I will tell you this. For a while, rules killed my voice. You see... I'm not really a rules girl.

That said, a number of rules, like in life, are rules for a reason, and if you break them (like don't hit people) you are likely to get smacked upside the head for it. These writing rules, once learned, can just seem like common sense:

Information dumps pull the reader out of the story.
Adverbs are often a lazy substitution for a better verb.
Active language is more engaging.

But for every rule, there are also appropriate times to break them. We can all think of great books that do just that.

So as it is the new year, and the world is trying to impose moderation... think of rules as moderation and remember that even moderation should be done in moderation.

You heard me. Moderation in moderation. Rules followed in moderation.

But to walk the line, you do indeed need to KNOW the rules. And have your valid reason ready when you break them, otherwise an editor is going to argue with you. (and nine times out of ten these arguments are not worth having—you will just end up changing it anyway. Though I have argued and convinced editors on one or two points on every book I've worked with an editor on—but one or two points out of dozens of edits is a small number). Still, be true to your own voice and your narrative voice and most voices do not hold vises on the rules (see what I did there?)
I thought this was rather a beautiful way to put this

AH! But there are a couple writing rules I hate. And those are the rules that try to shame us into a certain PROCESS. Everybody is different. Anybody who claims to know the rules for getting a story written is full of himself. Some outline. Some pants. Some write daily. Some in bursts. (though REGULARLY is more productive). Some edit as they go. Some wait to the end. On process it really is Rules Schmules.

So there.

Any rules you hate?

Now go see what other insecure folks have to say about it!