Monday, October 29, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Carve a lem-o-lantern?

Throw them at someone else?

Squeeze them on your lobster dinner?

Run away?

Why can't I remember the last part of that saying? I know it has something to do with making the best out of something you don't really want. Ah... I can't remember. 

All I know is that life is crazy sometimes. It's unfair to an extent, it's hard almost all the time, and just when you think you've got it right, it can sneak up on you. But the most important thing to remember is to strive for what makes you happy.

After a grueling wait, I've finally got a release date and cover art for A Cure for the Past


Sweeet!
For a while there, I was afraid I'd been forgotten about. But, out of the blue, I get a date of November 15, 2012, so look out, everybody! Because I'd been waiting, my writing went on hiatus. 

There's a few "life" things going on, so I'm putting everything on hold until I've got that smoothed out. Life has definitely given me a set of lemons recently, and I'm trying to...

Make lemon meringue pie?

...Damn. That's not it, either. It's right on the tip of my tongue! Whatever the rest of the idiom is, I'm trying it, and it seems to be working swimmingly! I've got an agent interested in The Death of Me as long as I clean up a few tag issues, and I'm feeling confident for the first time in a while. 

Whew! After all that talking, I'm going to need a nice, tall, cold glass of...!

That's it! "When life gives you lemons, dance like no one's watching."

Heh. Knew I'd get it eventually.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Cure for the Blog

Oh, my God, that was so funny. I just made a pun out of my own book!

Why am I the only one laughing?

*Rolls eyes* I'm the queen of lame jokes. Lame jokes everywhere.

Anyway, I'm back from Alaska. I shall share some photos with you:

I held an angry Bairdi (Snow) crab!
Stood on a glacier!

High Tea in British Columbia!

As you notice, I had a blast. Right down to the holding of the crab with gigantic claws. I didn't get a lot of writing done, because I've got some other "life" things going on. In essence, Shattered Memories will not be out this month. Maybe next month. We shall see.

On to writing? I just don't seem very motivated these days. I need to get back into the swing of subbing! Agents, here I come!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello? Yes, this is Blog!

Okay, first of all, I'm sorry I haven't posted in--checks desktop clock--two weeks?! Yikes. Forgive me. This blog post is going to be all over the freaking place.

A lot has happened over the past two weeks that would take a whole day to rant over. In all the world of cliches, hopes, dreams, motivation and stagnation, nothing quite takes the proverbial cake as the word "little."

This inconspicuous little (ha, ha!) word has plagued artists for...well...a long time. See, when you have a passion--be it wood-working or painting or writing--the one thing you loathe more than people standing around the refrigerator at work when you're dying of thirst is when someone demeans your work.

For instance, "Are you still writing that little book of yours?"

Or...

"I loved that little painting you did."

Or...

"I saw that little wood-work piece at the gallery yesterday."

The only response that comes to mind when someone says this to me begins with the letter "F" and ends in the letter "U." I'll let your imagination run with that little gem. Honestly, demeaning something which someone poured their heart and soul into is one of the worst insults a person can hurl. Incidentally, the whole business makes me want to hurl.

*Claps hands together*

Okay! On to less ranting and more doing (why I thought of a Home Depot commercial just now is beyond me...).

I started a new (sort of) business last week. My website is now host to a "Cover Design" area. So far, I've designed covers for three of my books and another book for a writer friend of mine.





I'm actually having a bit of fun with that old graphic design degree gathering dust in my closet! I'll be on a boat to Alaska in T-minus four days, but I'll be thinking about writing. And I'll have a notebook with me so I can finish Shattered Dreams. My hope is to have it out by September 20th.

Oh, and if you need or know anyone who needs some cover art done, just drop me an e-mail via my website.

Enjoy, friends!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

There Seems to Be...

...this pesky little rain cloud following me around. Shoo! Shoo! Go away!

I don't understand why it always rains on me! Why me, rain cloud? Can't you pick on someone your own size? Or shape? Or another inanimate object, perhaps? 

Recently, my novelette Healer released for Amazon Kindle and in paperback. Friday and Saturday, I had a free download promo for the book. About 210 copies were downloaded between the two days. Not a ton of publicity, but enough to get the book out there for people to see.



During the free promo period, I was religiously checking Amazon KDP and the Healer page for "likes," "downloads," "reviews," etc. This morning, I came upon my first review of the book on Goodreads.

It was 1 star. 

1 star. That alone would have been enough to make me want to throw my USB stick of work in the trash. But the spiteful review that followed pushed me over the edge. 

In the review, the individual makes a point to talk about the writing being "juvenile" and the book being "littered with historical inaccuracies." In the end, the reviewer claims to have gotten "1/4 of the way through before [I] deleted it from [my] library."

I was utterly floored by this. I worked very hard on the novelette and was upset to learn that someone hated it so much that they felt the need to publicly show their distaste. 

Now, here I point out some very obvious truths. Why would I (or anyone, for that matter) publish a book with glaring historical inaccuracies? I worked with a local historian on the facts and details, so I'm not sure what the reviewer found so glaring about it. Also, the book is clearly labeled as Young Adult, so of course there will be a bit of a "juvenile" beat to the dialogue. Another issue is that this person did not even finish the book. In my opinion, it is customary to complete something prior to reviewing it so you have a clear mind for what you're writing. 

I sulked about for half the day, looking for solace in anyone who would listen. The second half of today, I was angry. I was so dumbfounded that someone could say something so hateful about a work I put my heart into. But once I settled, I realized that being angry or sad wasn't going to change the reviewer's opinion. The only thing I can do is sit back and wait for others to give their opinions and hope those opinions are positive. 

For my readers who have downloaded and read Healer, I encourage you to leave a review either on Amazon or Goodreads. This would help me out very much, and I do hope you enjoy the novelette.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let Us Use Our Little Gray Cells Today!

Me: "Why, thank you for the introduction, Masseur Poirot."
Masseur Poirot: "Bon. You are very welcome, Mademoiselle Urban."
Me: "I'm so glad you're here with us today!"
Masseur Poirot: "Réellement? Ah, I am flattered. Any way I can help."
Me: "Merci! Although I don't do much writing in the way of mysteries and crime-solving, I would like to employ the use of those--"
Masseur Poirot: "Little gray cells, madam?"
Me: "Yes!"
Masseur Poirot: [nods] "Oui, madam. Continue."

Recently, I've been editing some posts for a friend. He has some great stories to tell about his medical illnesses, but upon reading this aspiring writer's struggles, I realized there are some aspects of writing which many people may not know. 


I suppose I'll skip the part about the difference between "there," "they're," and "their" as well as when to use parentheses and semicolons. Those are regulations every writer should be well-versed in before they begin their long trek through the rejection and sludge and tears and heartache and--


Masseur Poirot: [clears throat] "Excuse me, madam, but I think you may want to...se hâter."

Me: "Right...sorry. I'm on it."
Masseur Poirot: "Perhaps you should begin with titles, Mademoiselle."
Me: "Thank you."


Titles

Those lovely little descriptions that give the reader a tantalizing taste of what your novel, poem, short story, or non-fiction book is about. When writing, we can often use titles within our sentences to prove points, offer examples, cite references, etc. 

Now, titles are always in italics. Unless you have absolutely no way to make something italicized, you can use quotes. However, "quotes" are typically used in dialogue.



Quotes and When to Use a Comma

Since we're on the subject... Quotes are usually used in dialogue. But a common problem I've been seeing when editing is that some may not know when or how to use a comma with quotes. Below are some examples:

Propping a hand on one slender hip, she said, “Accounting is for nerds and ugly people.” Comma goes after “said” and before the quotes begin.

“No, you’re a beautiful swan,” he replied. Comma follows the last word of the dialogue and is placed before the end quote when a “said tag” is used. 


“He’s working.” I turned back to the word document. Comma does not exist if an action follows the dialogue.


As a side note, when quoting from a source or reference, the quotes (I've noticed recently) sit outside the punctuation. For instance: I always thought of myself as "good." This is my opinion, but I don't like this. I was taught and raised to believe that the quotes go inside the punctuation if you're citing something. Punctuation goes inside only in dialogue. I'm not entirely sure when this changed; all I know is that it has.


Masseur Poirot: "You have excellent dialogue, Mademoiselle."

Me: "Why, thank you, Masseur Poirot."
Masseur Poirot: "They remind me of real people."

Which is the point. Let's keep moving.



Tenses

This is a bit of a gray area in terms of writing. Recently, I've seen a few fiction books come out in which the narrator uses present tense to describe actions. To be honest, I am so used to reading in past tense, that seeing something in present throws me off. Often, I've found myself unable to finish the story. Examples are below:

Present:
I look up at my roommate and best friend. Her golden hair shines in the fading orange light of the sun poking through the blinds. 
I lean back in my chair and frown. “This sucks.”

Past:
I looked up at my roommate and best friend. Her golden hair shone in the fading orange light of the sun poking through the blinds. 
I leaned back in my chair and frowned. “This sucks.”

To me, past tense makes more sense because whatever has been written has already happened. Present tense gives the sense that the reader is reading the actions as they happen, which throws the whole thing off kilter. Then again, this is only my opinion. It's common practice to write in past tense, but it's really up to interpretation.


Ellipses

My personal favorite party-ruiners. In recent months, I have noted a change in the way ellipses are used. Just as with "quotes," I have come to find out that when you use the "..." anywhere, there is not always a space after the last period and the next word.  If it’s cutting a sentence into two, you space and capitalize after the last period. I.E. “Well... She’s my sister!” or “Yeah... That’s dumb...” But if it’s part of the same sentence, you want to negate the space and capitalization. I.E. “She’s a...a wraith!”  or “She just...threw the keys out the window!”

Masseur Poirot: "A wraith, Mademoiselle?!"

Me: "Don't worry, Masseur Poirot, it's only in the book. There's really no such thing."
Masseur Poirot: "Bon. Of course."


ALL CAPS

I'm told that ALL CAPS are a big no-no in manuscripts. Anything which is construed as yelling or emphasizing requires italics again. And again, if you do not have access to italics, please use quotes.

Masseur Poirot: "I tip my hat to you, Mademoiselle. I may be Hercule Poirot, the most sought after private detective, but you are excellent with words."

Me: "Thank you very much, Masseur Poirot. And thank you for being our guest today in using our little gray cells."
Masseur Poirot: "You are quite welcome. Where can I read more from you?"

On Amazon! Healer and A Cure for the Condition are both available for Kindle and Paperback. Just do a quick search for my name (Ami Urban), and you'll find them!



Monday, July 30, 2012

"Healer": Eternal Life Can Be a Pain...

Lots of updates to go around, people!

About six weeks ago, I sent in a proposal to Barnes & Noble to see if they'd want to stock my book, A Cure for the Condition, on their shelves. Well, let me tell you, I did not wait with bated breath. I didn't expect anything out of it, because the book is indie published and B&N is notorious for not working with smaller publishers. 

So, when I got a letter in the mail last Thursday from them, I immediately sighed and wanted to toss it into the rejection bin (which is, consequently, in the same location as the trash can). I mean, when a letter starts off, 

Dear Ms. Urban,

Thank you for the opportunity to review your book, A Cure for the Condition...

it's usually not a good sign. But, upon reading further, they admitted they liked the book and wanted to purchase twenty copies for their shelves! Twenty copies! I about had a heart attack.

First thing I did? Ran into my house (ignoring the "please take off your shoes at the door" rule), skidded to a stop just inside the bedroom, and yelled, "Barnes & Noble wants to carry my book!!!"

And a celebratory chocolate-chip milkshake later, I contacted my publisher to see if they would use one of B&N's third party distributors to carry the book so it could be ordered. Unfortunately, that answer was no, but I am being given the opportunity to be my own distributor (which is fine by me as long as my books make it to those shelves!).

So, I will keep you updated on that little tidbit of beautiful, wonderful news. 

Next up, my new novella, Healer

Life is comfortable in eighteenth century Philadelphia; jobs are aplenty, the town is flourishing, and people are learning. Barely eighteen, Martin Krane learns of his younger sister's illness. Pneumonia threatens her life and Martin will do anything to save her. A mysterious stranger in a seedy pub befriends him one night, spouting strange stories about a "cure for death." Martin soon learns that saving his sister's soul may mean he must exchange it for his own.

If you've been reading my blog posts religiously, you'll know kind of who Martin Krane already is. Healer is the novella/prequel of Martin's origin. My hope is that this will be available on Kindle for 99 cents very, very soon. Look out for it!

And always, feedback about the cover and blurb is absolutely welcome. Thanks all!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ell-Oh-Ell. Jay-Kay

Today, I have decided to do something a little different. I'll be writing this entire post in French!

Très drôle. Je blague.

Which translates roughly into: LOL, J/K.

I'd never do that to you. Besides, the only French I know is "Hello." "1,2,3,4,5,6." and "I need some toilet paper."

So, what then, am I writing about today? How about some Character Development? Yeah, that sounds good. 

Yesterday, in "The Few, The Proud, The 238" group, some of us got into a discussion about Heroines (stop laughing, immature people!) that weren't ALL good. Right now, it's important to have a character with flaws. A flawless, goody-two-shoes main character is, in my opinion, as boring as papier toilettes (toilet paper).

As you've seen in my current series, The Death of Me, Katie (my main character, or MC) is very focused on finishing out her Life List before she dies in thirty days. Katie's a joker, she's an outcast. She only has one friend in high school, and tends to stick to herself. Katie also watches A LOT of film. She makes many references to her favorite shows or movies. Here are a few:

Book #1 (The Death of Me)

The second bell rang. The three of us began walking in the direction of the cafeteria. “But his timing sure is atrocious.”
“You and your vocabulary,” Sherry muttered.
“I like it,” Martin interjected. “It shows she’s smart.”
“Yeah, well no one asked you.”  She shot him a sideways glare.
“People don’t have to ask for my opinion.” He snorted.
“That’s right; it just shoots out like pea soup from the mouth of the devil.” I grinned.   

Book #2 (The Death of My First Assignment)

“Hmm…” He glanced above me into the kitchen. “Hey… There’s a Kubrick marathon that starts in ten minutes. Take your mind off the job for a few hours. You interested?”
I tilted my head to one side. “Open the pod bay doors, Kevin.”

Book #3 (The Death of My Best Friend)

“What are you, some kind of perverted half-wolf?” I pushed against his sinewy chest. 
He studied me for a moment, then smiled again. “So... Samantha you are not.”
I nodded dramatically. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you, Yoda. I—” I stopped, his words sinking in. “You’re actually looking for Sam?”

Book #4 (The Death of His Tribe)

“Okay, I officially feel like I’m stuck in an episode of Poirot.” I peered into the dark office and watched Martin’s back as he fiddled with the lock on Margie’s file cabinet.
“I say...”
“What did you find, Captain Hastings?” I asked in a faux French accent. “Is it the jewels Masseur Lavington hid in the...Chinese...Box...? Okay, I’ll stop, now.” 

Book #5 (Untitled)

“These are beautiful moments--these less-than-rare moments when Starscream gets his butt kicked twice by Megatron in five minutes...” 

Katie is notorious for her sarcastic comments and using them in every day life as though her existence is a film. But, like anyone else, she has her flaws. She's a tad judgmental of others:

When she shook her head, I almost judged her sanity right then and there. 
“No. It happened to me once before when I took acid.”
I did my best to hold in my hum of disapproval. It came out as a half-cough instead. She didn’t seem to notice. 

“Well, what have you never done?” Kevin asked. 
“Besides heroine?”
I winced, and unfortunately, she saw it. 
“Gimme a break, Miss Pure. I’m eighteen, I’ve tried it all.” She rolled her eyes. 

To me, being judgmental of others is a huge flaw. People should let others be the way they are. Who cares what they do as long as it isn't hurting you? But, Katie just can't seem to let people be who they are. 

However, her other, more major flaw, is that she can't seem to stop helping people. Regardless of whether or not they like her, are horrible to her, or she doesn't even know them. And it gets her into trouble:

“It’s only a few more days, I—”
“No.” He shook his head. “So, it’s a few more days now, but what about next time? What about next time you wanna help somebody? What lengths are you going to go to then? How much danger are you willing to put yourself in, Katie?”
I narrowed Sam’s eyes. How could I have answered that?
“I’m not willing to see you get hurt. I’m not willing to lose you.” 

In the end, character flaws are important. And it's how the character deals with them that makes the reader either love or hate them. Sherlock Holmes was overly intelligent. He could solve any case. But he was rude, short-tempered, and addicted to Opium. Those are some heavy flaws. 

If you were to write a character, what kinds of flaws would he or she have? Do you think Katie's flaws are too much? Would you like to read about her adventures in the afterlife?

Monday, July 16, 2012

"A Cure for the Condition" Giveaway!


Hello all you Historical Romance lovers, out there! I thought I'd give you a little treat! I've got some promotional copies of my debut novel left over, and I'd like to give some away to you in return for being great readers and either helping me out with a review or spreading the word to your friends. 

If you'd like to enter the contest, just leave a comment below and I'll be choosing the winners next week!

Thanks for your support!

An excerpt is as follows:


“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche


Part 1

November

Chapter 1
A forlorn, soft piano melody enveloped her as the book lay at an awkward angle in her lap. As her eyes remained closed, absorbing the musician’s brilliant performance, she had no idea her step-brother was watching her.

“Ah, Princess Catherine—there you are!” he said, barging into the room as he had many times over the previous two years.

Princess Catherine inhaled before his gravelly voice could release her daydreams. Sitting straight on the stiff sofa in the parlor, she placed the book next to her.

“Yes, good afternoon, Malcolm,” she replied.

Malcolm supplied her with a half-smirk and proceeded to lean against the sofa on which she sat. Princess Catherine couldn’t help but experience an ever-so-slight tingle when she peered into his crystal-blue eyes.

Although her step-brother’s nose was somewhat too large, his lips thin, and his face angular, Malcolm had a strong jaw, well-groomed silver hair, and a smile that could draw women from countries away. At times, his boyish half-smirk made it difficult for Princess Catherine to recall he was seven years her senior.

“I heard about your meeting with the suitor this afternoon, and I must say I am intrigued,” he said.

Catherine donned an immediate scowl. “Malcolm, is this going to be another instance such as when you barged into this room as I was learning that piano and tell me I am causing a ruckus, or will it be reminiscent of when I returned home wearing rouge and you mocked me endlessly?” she demanded.

Malcolm feigned ignorance, putting a hand to his heart. “Why, dear step-sister, I am saddened by your accusations! I merely wished to extend my…condolences that the meeting did not go as hoped.” He suppressed a half-hearted chuckle.

“Of course,” Catherine replied, clearing her throat. “I’ll have you know our feelings were requited. I did not much care for the man.”

“Oh? That’s not what was told to me. I was told he stifled a laugh at first sight of you, and then appeared bored and lazy the remainder of his stay,” Malcolm said, pulling on a lock of Catherine’s brown hair.

She pulled away and supplied him with a sharp stare.

“My, my, you certainly are a harbinger of rejection, aren’t you? Inquiring minds are dying to know, Princess—what’s that like?” he asked.

“I suppose you should ask the multitude of women at your feet, Malcolm; perhaps they would be a more fitting choice. Tell me, how many with whom have you been?” she demanded, attempting to quell the sting of emotion forcing its way through her middle.

Malcolm stopped for a moment and furrowed his brow. “I don’t know; I don’t count,” he replied smugly, turning his attention back to her.

“Of course not.”

“Oh, poor Catherine,” he continued. “No man will ever desire to be the Prince of a woman as plain as you. Why, your ridiculous freckles and mousy brown hair will never draw in a man of merit.”

Catherine inhaled a sharp breath and straightened her back. “How dare you! I am an educated woman, I speak three languages fluently, and I am heir to the Cannary throne!”

“Oh come now, you’re seventeen and still have yet to find a husband. How many suitors does that man make, anyway?”

At his words, Catherine stood and clenched her fists at her sides. “I will not stoop to your level of…affectionate teasing, Malcolm!”

For a moment, her step-brother said nothing, seeming to be surprised by her sudden outburst. However, after regaining his composure, he was hit with a fit of laughter so powerful he was forced to double over and clutch his belly.

“Affectionate! Oh, you are much too entertaining!” he said between chuckles.

Wanting no more of his belligerent behavior, Catherine stormed from the parlor and down the hall to the Queen’s study, the familiar twinge of despondency trying to force tears from the well behind her eyes.

“Princesses do not cry!” she told herself before knocking on her mother’s door.

Once she heard the unmistakable soft voice of her mother granting her entrance, she pushed the door open and barged into the room.

“Oh, Catherine, dear!” her mother said, a warm smile on her face. She pushed aside a pile of papers and supplied her daughter with her full attention. “I apologize about that abysmal meeting between you and Mr. Elgar this afternoon.”

“It is fine, Mother,” Catherine replied, seating herself in a plush chair across from the large maple desk at which the Queen worked. She straightened her back and folded her hands in her lap.

“You must understand that I feel you are at an age where you must find a husband.” The Queen smiled again, gentle wrinkles creasing into the skin around her eyes and mouth.

“It is no bother, Mother. However…”

Queen Victoria leaned forward, awaiting her daughter’s next words. “What is it, dear?”

“Well...there is this...man…” she stumbled with unease.

“Ah ha!” her mother cried, standing from her desk. “I knew it! I would recognize that look anywhere!”

“Mother, please…”

“Nonsense! Why did you not tell me of this man sooner?” Queen Victoria demanded, rounding the corner and embracing her daughter.

“He does not share my feelings,” Catherine replied with a sigh. With purpose, she omitted the fact that this man was also her step-brother.

Her mother pulled away and looked deep into her daughter’s emerald eyes. “Any man who does not find you perfect is utterly mad,” she said with a smile.

Catherine returned her mother’s gesture with a strained smile of her own. “But, I am convinced he is the only man I desire, Mother.”

The Queen took a seat in the other plush chair adjacent to her large desk and sighed.

“Catherine, I’d like to tell you a story,” she began.

The Princess nodded and allowed her mother to continue.

“When I was not much younger than you, I married your father. I believed he was the handsomest man in the world. I doubted I would ever find another love such as he gave me. But…” she paused, a frown creasing into her long face, “when he died...well...I was torn, you know this.”

“Yes, but I would rather not speak of Father,” Catherine replied, her voice tight with decade-old anger.

“Of course, I understand. At any rate, when I met Malcolm’s father two years ago, my belief in love was renewed; Callum is a wonderful man. Catherine, I am sure one day you will find a man who will return all the affection and love you hold in your heart.”
* * * *
After a late supper that night, Catherine was studying her books in a small den across from the castle’s dungeon. Many of the words and phrases in the books were familiar to the Princess, and she found herself submitting to a brief chuckle at the Cannary License Act of 1872, which prohibited civilians to operate bovine while intoxicated.

Soon, as often happened on late nights when studying, she found herself intimidated by a particular clause in one of Cannary’s oldest policies. Placing a piece of parchment between the pages to mark her place, she stood from the plush sofa and made her way down the hall toward the bedroom of the Queen and Prince.

“Mother?” she called, knocking on the door.

Silence followed, so the Princess rapped again.

“Mother?” she said with more force.

When no one answered, she turned the brass door handle and peeked into the room. What she saw was unimaginable.

Blood was spattered on the painting of her great grandfather and the pink striped wall above the four-poster bed. The sheets were soaked with the sticky red substance as it dripped off of the bed skirt into a puddle on the floor. The Queen and Prince of Cannary lay motionless, bathed in the crimson fluid. Catherine stared unmoving at the scene before her in utter terror.

Her lungs froze as she tried to call for help. All her prior schooling and instincts left her as she stared at her mother and step-father’s lifeless bodies before her. She was unable to remember whom she was to call in a situation such as this. At last, when her head began to swim, she pulled in a labored breath and opened her mouth.

“Malcolm!”

Her step-brother was the first person who had come to mind, and she shouted his name with all the strength left in her body.

By chance, his room was just across the hall and he emerged a moment later, raking a hand through his tousled silver hair.

“For what reason are you shouting, Catherine?” he demanded, yawning wide.

“Moth...mother…” she stuttered.

Malcolm let out a sigh and trudged across the hallway to Catherine’s side. She was vaguely aware of his presence, but couldn’t tear her gaze away from her poor mother.

After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Malcolm pushed Catherine away and pointed down the hallway.

“Go, Catherine! Go to your room! Whoever’s done this may still be here!” he shouted at her.

Startled by the force of his voice, Catherine’s composure returned, and she scampered toward the end of the long hall, followed by her step-brother’s shouts for the guards.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Blog Hijacked Part II (Posted by Katie Bunny)

Damn! I missed him by a few days! 

Anyone seen Martin Krane? He has a habit of disappearing unless I really need him. Oh! That's it!

"Martin! Martin! Help! There's a wraith after me!"

... ... ... ...

Crap. Didn't work. Remind me to slap his impossibly adorable face next time I see him. He's going to be the death of me, I swear (no pun intended). Oh, wait...maybe that was supposed to be a pun. I don't know, it's hard to think when you've only got THIRTY DAYS to live.

Care to make the switch with me, Mr. Spurlock? You may just get me off the hook.
Nah... That wouldn't be fair. It's my life; my mistake. I gotta live with it. You're probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about, right? Well, thirteen days before my sixteenth birthday, I got into a car with a classmate who was blitzed on recreational stimulants (is Marijuana a stimulant? Or is a downer? Does a downer count as a stimulant?). I'm an idiot, I know. And, even though I was warned, I took my chances. Can you guess where it got me? Yeah, yeah, yeah. She crashed into a tree and I died, okay? I hate reliving that accident. 

But, dying has taught me some stuff--some pretty exciting stuff, if I may say so myself. See, I went to this endless sandy beach. An old friend of mine appeared to me and gave me this crazy spiel. Only...she wasn't my old friend. She was the embodiment of the beings in the next stage of existence. They can't appear to us because our brains only comprehend three dimensions. Basically, when we die, we leave our bodies behind and go to the...sixth dimension or something. Of course, I get left out. I always get left out. 

The snow and I have something in common... We're both left out in the cold!
So, this old friend tells me that I can't pass on because I haven't fulfilled my ultimate goal. I guess only those people who have LIVED can pass on. Crazy, right? So, I get to go back for a month to do all that stuff I'll never get to do. Which is why I NEED MARTIN!

... ... ... ...

Sigh... No luck. He's supposed to be helping with my Life List. 

Oh, yeah... I'm also not supposed to tell anyone anything about the afterlife or they'll suck me back into Purgatory for eternity (so this little post is between you and me. Winky face). Martin Krane is the guy they sent down to make sure I don't "spill the beans" to anyone. And I gotta say he's DOING A FANTASTIC JOB! 

Okay, deep breaths, Katie. He's probably just creating a report for the alter-dimensional "edlers" or hanging out with my best friend, Sherry, or running a brush through those soft, gold lock of his or...flirting with Christina. Gah! Stop thinking about him! Come on!

This is so sad. I have NO idea what the heck I'm supposed to be doing! In the last two weeks, I've turned sixteen, had my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and SIXTH kisses, tried whiskey, earned a solo in choir, and told my whole family I loved them. What's left? Overcoming my shyness? Yeah, right.

Okay, guys, I've got two weeks left. What should I do?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blog Hijacked! (Posted by Martin Krane)

Why do they call it that? Hijack? It sounds so...morbid. Then again, I do enjoy a morbid joke every now and then. Wanna hear one?

Okay, so, this real skinny guy walks into a cemetery and he sees this skeleton. And the skeleton says, "Hey, dude..."

Wait... Crap. I forgot the punchline. Come on, Martin, think... Real skinny guy walks into a cemetery... Skeleton says...

Damn. Major brain drain. That sucks. Sorry. 

Speaking of morbid, ever wonder what a day in life of an alter-dimensional guide is like? I guess not, huh. I mean, you probably don't even know what an alter-dimensional guide is. 'Kay, so, you probably already know that when people die, their souls move on to the next dimension, right? Well, if you haven't achieved a life goal or overcome a great obstacle, the alter-dimensional "elders" in charge of that dimension are gracious enough to offer you a second chance. This second chance can range anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. 

Now, a guide is someone they send down to watch over you to make sure you don't spill the beans to your loved ones. You do that, and it's Limbo for Bimbo (I made that up, because you're a bimbo if you can't keep it to yourself. 'Nuff said).

Allow me to introduce myself--my name is Martin Krane, and I'll be your guide into the afterlife. That's how I usually introduce myself. Sure, sometimes there's a gap between the person's spinal cord and brain stem, seeing as how they just DIED and CAME BACK TO LIFE. It can take some...finesse to pour a bucket of scalding hot morbid on them. There was one time where... No, you probably don't want to hear that one; it's really nasty. Like, super, duper, disturbingly nasty that I don't even want to... You get the hint.

Anyway, after I introduce myself and the person I'm helping has come to terms with their own mortality, it's my job to keep the wraiths away. Wraiths are from yet another dimension. They buy and sell human souls in a kind of dimensional black market. 

IF they looked like this, they might be easier to spot.
Unfortunately, wraiths possess dead bodies (loonngg dead bodies), so you won't know them from regular humans. Of course, I can tell the difference because I'm from the afterlife. Wraiths think that just because someone is given a second chance, they can offer them lame deals to get the person's soul. But if my assignment makes a deal with a wraith, that wraith owns them (at which point I'm off the hook and have some free time between assignments, but every soul I don't bring home, I'm at fault, so...yeah). When the person dies, they get eternally consumed. Trust me, it sucks.

So, all I gotta do is keep the wraiths away by banishing them (releasing their souls--it's a neat little trick, too. I get to suck their soul out using my super alter-dimensional powers), and help my assignment achieve their goal. FYI...I've had a 98% success rate so far. I don't wanna talk about the other 2%. Just know you're in good hands with me.

In closing, my friends, if you ever find yourself on the opposite side of life with a handful of days to relive and no idea what to do with them, just look out for the tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed savior with an amazing physique. You can ask for Martin Krane, or Adonis. Doesn't matter to me. 

Ha! That's it! The skeleton says to the guy, "Brian, get back in your grave before the humans see you!" Get it? Because the guy was so skinny? Man, I crack myself up.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Favorite Transformer is Sludge

Right now. Because I'm stuck in it.

He's really dumb.
Currently, I'm working with an editor on my manuscript, The Death of Me--as you may already know. In the original context, Katie was seventeen going on eighteen. Halfway through, she turned eighteen. Now, this is a tough gray area in Young Adult. At eighteen, we are still in our "teens", but we have freer rein over what we can and can't do. Our parents can no longer tell us to clean our room because we're adults. No more curfews, etc. 

See, in Young Adult, there is an age barrier. 18-24 is considered "New Adult" and is very, very hard to sell to big publishers. Therefore, I have changed Katie's age to sixteen. 

But, by doing this, I've been forced (well, I went willingly, but you get the drift) to go back through the already written books two and three to change her age. This means that most of what she could have done at eighteen will be hindered by the fact that she still has to stay in school and do what the adults tell her to. 

I have a problem, though. I know where I want to story to end up, but getting there is half the battle. 

Ew. This is what I'm really stuck in.
Sludge is hard. How do you get out of it? A lot of writers have a lot of different ways to bypass the sludge. Me? I just plug through it. It's going to go through a round of beta readers and edits anyway, right? Might as well just go on (even if it bores me) and hash it out later. Skipping ahead is bad--makes you forget where you were going. And writing something else is even worse, because then you're stuck in that sludge. 

Alas, I am hopeful that the black sticky mess will clear. The end is in sight; I can feel it. But until then, I've got my rubber rain boots on.

FYI... Starscream is my real favorite.

Monday, July 2, 2012

This Brave New World with Such Characters in it!

So, I was recently asked where I come up with ideas for characters. Well, they come from a lot of places. Mainly, my own head. Ha! 

But, seriously... I have the following characters in my current series, The Death series:

Katie Bunny, Martin Krane, Sherry Raymond, Kevin Carter, John Gray, Julian, Irish Moses, Mandy, Wizzlespoons, Mary and Stan Bunny, Serena Gibbons, Sam Preston... 

As you see, the list goes on. Obviously, Katie--being the main character--is very near and dear to me. How did I come up with her? She's me. She's me when I was sixteen. I don't have any pictures (nor do I wish I did), so have this one.

I am so obviously NOT sixteen
And all the other characters are based on people I knew from that time in my life. Well, all except Martin Krane. Martin is completely my own creation. He actually has a nice little back-story that can be traced. 

Ever heard of the show Martin Mystery? No, here's a synopsis:

"Martin Mystery is a dripping goo-fest of slime, thrills and comedy, starring Martin and Diana: two mismatched teenagers with hilariously opposite personalities on a mission to investigate the weirdest paranormal enigmas and the slimiest creatures from beyond. Commissioned by 'The Center' - an undercover bureau specializing in mysterious phenomena - and with the help of Java, a massive caveman lost in time, they leap from their average school duties to eerie slime-dripping caves and lairs." -David Michel from IMDB.

It was one of those pseudo-anime shows that came out of Switzerland... Or France... I don't remember which. I was a huge fan--watched the damn thing religiously. Why? I don't know! Maybe it was the paranormal aspects. Maybe it was the ongoing war between Martin and Diana. Maybe it was the fact that I followed the voice actor, Sam Vincent, wherever he went (whether it was his portrayal of geeky Edd from Ed, Edd, n Eddy, or his voice from Gundam, or being an extra on Fringe--yeah, I just about died with that one). OR... It TOTALLY could have been the way they drew his cute face:

Does HE look sixteen? No, I don't think so.
He is cute. I don't care what you say. Now, Martin started off as my after-school best friend. He always knew how to make me laugh. When I started writing FanFiction with a friend at sixteen, he always made it into my stories. It didn't matter what they were about; Martin was always there. 

But because Martin was so young, I didn't have a place for him in my adult novels, the A Cure series. So, for a long time, he went unnoticed. But, when I started writing The Death of Me, the first name that popped into my head was his. Now, just a surname change and voila, my Martin won his place into my book and back into my heart. I love you, Martin. 

Oh, and just because I liked captioning pictures in this post, here's another super adorable actor guy that I watched in I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK:

Oh, isn't he just SO cute?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Madness Behind Pet Names

Pet names! Bah!

How often have you wracked your brain; tried your hardest to come up with a pet name for your sweetie (let's mark that one for later), only to be faced with having to call them by their name or--even worse--something like "pooper." Yeah, I've heard that one before. Gross.

Well, as a writer, I find it actually hard to come up with names that my characters can call one another. My run down list goes something like this:

Love
Babe
Baby

...And that's it. Wow. It's even shorter in print than it is in my head. Malcolm calls Catherine "Love" as a sign of affection. In turn, she just uses his name. But if the moment calls for something sweeter, she uses "Babe" or "Baby." That's just the A Cure series. What about The Death series?

Well, Martin doesn't ever really give a pet name to Katie. I suppose when she's dating John, he calls her "sweetness", but that's only once. Martin just shortens her nickname from Katie to "Kay", which sounds more or less like an acquiesce than a name for someone you care about.

My characters come up with their own lines, their own words and catchphrase, so they can deal with a shortage of "Honey," "Sweetness," and "Pumpernickel" (okay, that last one is made up).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Forgive me bloggers, for I have neglected....

Sorry about that. I know...it's been forever.

I've been pouring over QT forums for the projects I'm engaged in. At the moment, I've got six works in progress. Three of which are sequels to The Death of Me, and two of which are sequels to the A Cure Series.

I submitted the third in the A Cure series to my publisher last week because I was tired of waiting for agents to get back to me. Besides, I'm really engaged in my current sub. But the day after I submitted to them, I got a full request from an agent I would love to have. And guess what? Okay, no... No word yet. But this MS did pass the five-day test my other one didn't. And it also passed the six-day test the agent tends to be in line with. 

Anyway, doesn't matter to me either way. Either way it's going to get published.

Oh, and something else! Jeez, I almost forgot. 

I've been searching my name every day on Amazon to wait for the book to be available. Today, I saw it! Yay! 

Here are the links:

Print

Kindle

No B&N yet, but that'll come soon!

Oh, and they spelled my last name wrong on the Kindle edition. Working on fixing that with the Publisher. Rawr!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lame Ex-Boyfriends

Something interesting happened to me today, and I won't go into it to protect those involved. It wasn't terrible, sad, or even disturbing. It was actually rather nice. 

Anyway, a great idea from a fellow 238er inspired me to write a post about what kind of ex I would want to come back to me, a Malcolm Holmes or a Martin Krane. 

Now, Malcolm Holmes is mature; English. He knows how to inject humor into a conversation drenched in woe. And he never ends a sentence in a preposition if he can help it. Malcolm will do whatever he can to get what he wants, even if it means sacrificing something or someone else to get it. 

In the A Cure series, he has some great lines, some great love affairs, and an even greater sense of humanity. Without Malcolm, none of the books would have been possible. And watch what you say to the women he loves. One wrong move, and you'll get an earful. 

And I don't consider him arrogant or conceited at all. He just KNOWS he's that good with women. He just KNOWS he's a lover in the same vein as Valentino and Fabio. Malcolm doesn't ever like to have sex. Malcolm likes to "make love." He gives and teases at the same time. He can make women melt and freeze until they don't know whether they're coming or going. And because of that, you won't know you're saying yes to him until it's too late.

The only thing about Malcolm is that he can be stubborn and hard-headed. Sometimes, he doesn't know when to quit. And his spontaneity can sometimes land him in heaps of trouble.

Martin Krane, however... Martin Krane is in a nineteen-year-old body, but he's really 420 years old. So, Martin's got the wisdom of his age and the sense to know what he wants. Or so you'd think. 

Martin has had a lot of fleeting loves. But his real love is with his sister who died when he was nineteen. Since then, he has longed for a real relationship, but never had the heart to go down that road and be hurt. And he's the type of guy that would rather not try at all than try and fail. 

But Martin's also got a dark side (hee hee, "something, something Dark Side" John, you know what I'm talking about). Martin can get sulky, moody, grumpy. He has a habit of shrinking into himself and not talking about what's bothering him. You have to pry to get it out. And even after he tells you, there's no guarantee that he'll be back to his old self again. 

But Martin will do what he can to stand up for what he believes in. When he loves, he'll do whatever it takes to help the lucky girl he's fallen for. 

The only thing about Martin that seems off is his serious nature. I know that sounds weird, but when Martin gets serious, something's going down. 

So, I know which one I'd want to be my lame ex-boyfriend coming around for a second chance after I'd thought all was done. But, what about you?

Friday, June 1, 2012

An Interview with Malcolm and Catherine

I had the impromptu pleasure of witnessing an interview between Malcolm Holmes, Catherine of Cannary, and a fellow 238er, Humeira Kazmi yesterday. It’s just my luck that Malcolm and Catherine start arguing THE DAY BEFORE the release of their novel, A Cure for the Condition. Below is what I put up with on a daily basis...



Humeira: Heard so much about you—and belated happy birthday! Do you know Ami Urban?

Malcolm: Why, thank you! But of course, Miss Urban wrote my life story ;-)

Humeira: Ah! So you are a puppet in a woman’s hands... I like you already!

Malcolm: Ah, but you have that backwards, my dear. Women happen to be putty in MY hands ;-) Miss Urban thinks she wrote my story out of admiration for both Catherine Delaney and myself. What she doesn't yet know is that she's hopelessly in love with me (as most women tend to be).

Humeira: I like your confidence, Mal... Mind if I call you that?

(might I add here that Malcolm HATES being called “Mal." Of course, he adores Humeira, so...)

Malcolm: For you, my darling...anything ;-)

Catherine: Malcolm! You are impossible with those beastly manners! Do the world a favor and mature!

Amy Croall: See what you got yourself into, Humeira? I told you... Behave, you guys!!

Humeira: Awww! I think Mal is awesome! But, Cat...so tell me: what’s so cool about him? Why don’t you just ditch him ;)

Catherine: Oh, if only I could! My darling daughter won't allow me to rid myself of him! If only I'd had a son! Perhaps HE wouldn't have been swayed by Malcolm's incessant hormonal magnetism!

Malcolm: Oh, Love...you flatter me ;-)

Humeira: Ah! It’s a parent trap! Oh, Mal, that is awful to take advantage like that! If you like the daughter, you must be nice to the mother.

Amy Croall: *Facepalm*

Humeira: Uhm... Don’t tell me he’ll say, “Oh, but I AM nice to her!” :D

Malcolm: Too late, my dear ;-) I am nothing but pure gentleman to Miss Catherine, I can assure you.

Amy Croall: SO MANY WINKY FACES!

Humeira: I thought you’d say that! And, yeah, something twitchy in the eye, Malcolm?

Catherine: That is Malcolm! A gentleman?! A swamp rat has far more manners than you! I am certain that he is predestined to "wink" at unsuspecting women the rest of his life!

Malcolm: Why, Catherine, none of them are "unsuspecting." I'm certain Evelia would disagree.

Amy Croall: You just HAD to mention her, didn't you, Malcolm? Don't say I didn't warn you.

Humeira: Who is Evelia? Pray, enlighten us!

Amy Croall: No! Humeira! You don't know what you're asking!!!!

Malcolm: Ah, how can I describe Evelia Perez? As a summer's day? No, that is too common. Evelia is stunning, exotic, beautiful. The assistant to the Queen of Lataria. The woman turns the Spanish language into pure honey melting from her tongue. She is beauty incarnate.

Amy Croall: Crap.

Catherine: SHE'S A HARLOT, MALCOLM! She'd risk her life for one night with you! She is nothing but a black mark upon Queen Ena's reign! If I did not respect Her Majesty so much, I would stake my claim to have her REMOVED from this planet! And she's ghastly! She uses her feminine wiles to influence men! She is NOT good for you!

Malcolm: If I didn't know any better, Love, I'd say you're jealous.

Amy Croall: Mother of...

Catherine: JEALOUS! Envy does not suit a Queen such as myself, Malcolm Isaac Holmes! And if you do not begin to treat me as such, then I will have no other recourse but to toss you under Jackson's watch again! Is that something you desire? Is it?

Humeira: I’m compelled to agree with Mal, here. Cat, you CARE about him :)))

Malcolm: Oh, dear, I've struck a nerve. I may have to bow to Her Majesty gracefully. After all, she IS my reason for living...

Catherine: My goodness, my heart! Of course I care for Malcolm. But caring for Malcolm usually involves being burned by Malcolm, as you can see. He infuriates me! And, yes, I am his reason for living. And it would do you well not to forget it!

Humeira: Well, he must have a weakness that you can use to your advantage and make him behave? Sorry, Mal ;)

Catherine: Malcolm, "behave," and "weakness" do not belong in a sentence together!

Humeira: Tsk! But you’re the Queen!

Catherine: Hmph! God Himself cannot even control Malcolm!

Humeira: Perhaps that’s why he doesn’t believe in Him ;)

Catherine: I would assume so. The man has no qualms whatsoever. To love him is to give up your soul!

Malcolm: Still speaking of me ladies? I'm flattered. Really.

Humeira: Just wrapping up, Mal. You’re just in time for my last question. How would you define yourself? And how would you define each other? I have enough from Cat about you, Malcolm, so how about YOU define her?

Malcolm: I would say that I know what I want, but I'm not willing to sell myself to obtain it. If I can use other means, I certainly would. Oh, and I have NO weakness--excluding my fervent need of brandy every now and then. How would I describe Catherine? Well... She is so very easy to tease and easily upset, as you can plainly notice. However, I am pleased at how strong she is as a woman. Why, when she was still a Princess, she would hold back tears at the very sight of me! She has grown into a lovely young woman and a mature mother. Hats off to her.

Catherine: Oh, Malcolm...

Humeira: :D Okay, cheers all around! We have a happy ending...at least to my posts on the wall :P

Malcolm: Thank you, my dear.

Humeira: Thank you for your time, you two! Catherine and Malcolm... Lovely meeting you!

Please check out the publisher’s website to purchase A Cure for the Condition if you want to see where this tirade is headed. http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1005.