Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Benefits of Practice

Well, actually, it’s pretty much everything. I mean, practice keeps us on our toes, right? But since this will be our third move in two years, and since two of those moves have been major, cross-country moves, I’m starting to feel like an expert this time around.

I’m getting good at packing. Not that I wasn’t good before—I’ve moved so many times in my life, that I’ve lost track of how many homes I’ve lived in. And that’s okay. But when it comes to boxing things up—yeah. I’m getting there.

I’m also getting good at throwing things away. I know it sounds funny, but this is not a strength I’ve always had. I’m something of a packrat—or I used to be. I kept everything, even broken Rubbermaid containers, because I didn’t want to have to buy new ones. But broken containers do me no good when we’re moving, and so away they go. Along with the bench I’ve kept in the garage for the last year, planning to paint it. I love it, but it’s damaged, and heavy, and will cost more to transport than it’s worth, and so…it too goes.

Since we’re selling our house in Texas, I’m getting good at quick cleaning. Not because my house is always spotless, but because we’ve learned tricks on where to hide our dirty clothes and how to load the dishwasher in record time.

Another thing I’m learning through practice is how to juggle everything else in life and still get my packing done. For instance, this weekend, my husband and I took a day off to visit a beach we’ve been wanting to get to, but that is just far enough away that we’d put it off. We were gone all day, so we didn’t get any packing done, but we didn’t feel guilty, because we have a Texas bucket list which is also important.

Even though all of the above mentioned things seem to be all about moving, I think the practice idea is true for EVERYTHING. Writing. Reading. Playing an instrument. Sports. Whatever. The more you do a thing, the better at it you become.

And now I need to figure out how to actually plant new roots and stay put, because people, I do not want any more practice with moving.


What about you? What are you currently practicing? 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Land of the Brave, the Independent, the Free

I am of the patriotic sort. The girl who wears red, white, and blue on the 4th of July and who insists on attending parades (even though my kids think they’re too old) and planning barbeques (even though they all whine) and then finding the best local fireworks show (even if I have to go without them). I love everything this holiday is about, what it stands for, and how it came to be. And I have a very special place in my heart for The Star Spangled Banner, particularly after a few years ago when I visited the very place where Francis Scott Key became inspired to write it.


But sadly, in South Texas, there is no parade, no city carnival/festival, and only a very small fireworks show in one of the nearby towns. Instead, we got up before sunrise and drove an hour away to see baby sea turtles released into the wild. We spent the day at the beach. We had our barbeque and spent the day together, and regardless of the whining, my family remembered why the country celebrates this glorious holiday.

Because thousands of brave soldiers have fought, and continue to fight, to keep our country strong—to keep us free. Because of that freedom, I am brave enough to follow dreams of my own. Like writing. And my kids can follow their dreams.

So, you know how two years ago we moved to Texas so I could finally live by my beach (that I LOVE)? Well. Not all dreams last forever, and my love affair with the beach was to be short lived in order for my husband to chase a dream of his own. I won’t go into all the crazy exciting details about it, because you can read about it here, but the bottom line is, the Giles family is headed BACK to Utah! This means another cross-country move.

And it’s happening fast. As in, now.

So please forgive me if over the next couple weeks I’m a bit absent. I promise I’ll be back in due time. And hey, if you follow my Facebook author page, I’ll post pictures along the way.


Happy July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Holding the Spoon

Occasionally in life, we come to a point where we begin to feel stagnant. When the everyday becomes so routine that it ceases to be a challenge or a learning experience. And like a crime investigation gone cold, sometimes it becomes necessary to find a way to stir things up.

My husband (who is Chief of Police in our town) and his detectives recently did such a thing on a two-year-old homicide case which had almost gone cold. Recent changes in their department (including my husband coming in as chief), particularly the detective division, prompted them to start the investigation from the beginning, look at it with fresh eyes. Then they started all over by calling in a search and rescue team, complete with trained K-9s, to re-canvas the scene of the crime.

I think the same kind of thinking can apply to writing or to other art forms, as well as any aspect of life. Stirring things up is how I got my first book contract. And then again, stirring led me to my agent. Indeed, we stirred our family by moving to Texas a little under two years ago. There is extreme value in shaking things up, breaking patterns, accepting change. Change is growth. And growth is always, always good.

So they stirred this investigation, and while initially, no new evidence surfaced, the presence of the team was enough to start an avalanche of new information that bled with old information, and three weeks later…


An arrest. A strong case. Closure for the victims and their families. A murderer off the streets.

Stirring the cold pot brought out information that led investigators down the right path, just like stirring our family life to come to Texas led our family into some incredible, phenomenal growth. I am still awaiting the verdict on the progress with my career as an author, but big things are coming there too. I can feel it.


I’m already holding the spoon, dipping it in the sauce. Once again, it’s time to give things another little stir.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Everyone Is Angry

I feel a great disturbance in the force over the last few months. Not for any one reason in particular, but maybe for a combination of many. It seems like everywhere I look, every news article or social media feed has become about choosing sides on one issue or another.

Politics. Sports. Industry. Religion. One side must be right while the other side is wrong, and SO MANY people who normally might not speak out are shouting at the top of their lungs, crying foul! Because someone, somewhere, did something or said something that offends a personal sensibility, so we must share our opinions. Let us ALL share our thoughts on Amazon vs Hatchett, or Kate Kelly vs the LDS Church, or whether or not adults should read YA books. Let’s discuss industry jealousy, and politics and politicians, and, oh yes, what about the death penalty? While we’re at it, let’s discuss everything at once because we. Are. Angry.

Everyone is so angry. And eventually, anger becomes bitterness, which turns into hatred. And hatred, no matter how it forms or where it comes from, becomes misery. Wide-spread hatred becomes wide-spread misery.

It feels like everyone in the world is fighting over something. It’s exhausting, really. Because no matter the issue or which side on which you stand, there will never be a point where your view or your take is proven true. It’s an endless circle of discontent.

Granted, it’s not all about being proven right or wrong. In most cases battles are about making change, and I am an advocate for change. Change is good. Always. In most cases, change makes things better, even if it means going through growing pains for a while.

But people, do we really have to be at war with one another? Do we really have to spread venom and hate and anger throughout the world, just because our own emotions are high? Aren’t we, as compassionate, understanding human beings better than animals fighting over a kill?

I think we are. I think we should be. And I think it’s up to us to remember that, and to decide to take a step back, catch a breath, and focus on the good, the positive.

Today, when I was leaving the gas station after my daily Dr. Pepper stop, a gentleman held the door for me. At the grocery store, a little boy smiled shyly and waved. This afternoon, I have had texts from three separate long-distance friends telling me they miss me. My daughter borrowed my car last night, and while she was out, she filled up my gas tank and saved me the trouble of doing it myself.

There are kind gestures, sweet thoughts, beautiful, wonderful things happening all around us, and when we focus on those things rather than the ones that make us angry, I think it’s easier to remember how it feels to be happy. To be individual. To be free.

I vote we stop spreading anger and start spreading love instead. Let’s work on restoring the balance of the force, shall we?





Monday, June 16, 2014

Star Spangled Summer Adventure


I have a certain fascination with American History. Actually, all history, but since I'm American, and I live here, the stories of our colorful past just really interest me. 

A few years ago, I was with my family in Washington D.C., and I had the opportunity to see the flag that flew over Fort McHenry on the night it was bombarded by British war ships during the war of 1812. The same flag which, that very night, inspired Francis Scott Key to pen The Star Spangled Banner. 

During that same trip, I took a walking tour of Fort McHenry, for the first time understanding the full magnitude of what the song means. And since then, our national anthem continues to be a touching reminder to me of how much was sacrificed to build this country. 

So when I heard about the summer adventure challenge being issued by author L.C. Lewis, I HAD to jump on board. Because no matter where you are in America, we are all surrounded by history. 

I'm going to take this challenge, and drag my family along with me--not because of the prizes offered, but because these are the kind of activities that stick with us and shape us into better people. And hey, if we win some prizes along the way, it only makes it that much more fun! 

The details from L.C. Lewis:  

This summer marks the anniversaries of some profound American history. The sesquicentennial of the Civil War continues this summer, and August and September mark the 200th of anniversary of significant historical events from the War of 1812.

August 14th will mark the 200th anniversary of the British burning of America's capital, Washington D.C., including the torching of the White House, known then as The President's House, and the Capitol, which then housed the original Library of Congress. Along with these American architectural treasures, thousands of irreplaceable volumes were lost from our nation's library.

September 12-13 will mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, the birth of The Star-Spangled Banner, and the moment America began its love affair with the red, white, and blue,.

Sadly, economic issues and budget cuts have forced the cancellation of many public celebrations planned to mark these poignant events.

So families, it’s time to hit the road and create your own Star-Spangled Summer Adventure!


Laurie L.C. Lewis, author of the “Freemen and Dreamers” series, which covers this period of history, and some of her author friends, are hosting this Star-Spangled Summer Celebration to encourage families to rediscover America and her history. You visit local, state, or federal landmarks with your family, and we’ll provide some added incentive.

Here’s how you enter:

          1.       Visit five American historical landmarks, (even your local landmarks count), between Flag Day, June 14th, and Defender’s Day, September 12th.

          2.       Email photos of your family standing in front of a sign or building indicating where you went. Use this email address: starspangledsummeradventure@gmail.com

That’s it!

Additional entries will be awarded for those who promote the SSSA by posting the official badge and link on their blog, and link to it via their Facebook page, or on Twitter.  Just send an email with the corresponding link to starspangledsummeradventure@gmail.com

Additional entries can also be earned by submitting a brief, (250 words or less), testimonial recounting your experience on a leg of your “Star-Spangled Adventure.” These will be posted on my blog over the summer.

One family will be selected to win the prize package on September 13th. Visit the official Star-Spangled Summer Adventure page at  http://www.laurielclewis.com/summer-adventure.htm.

Prizes are still coming in, but the package now includes a Vivitar Digital Video Recorder; a $50 gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond; a commemorative set of the Charters of Freedom, suitable for framing; and a family-worthy collection of autographed books from authors in a variety of genres. (From Nichole: Also, this package includes a print first edition copy of DESCENDANT.)

So hit the road, and let us see what great American history you find!

Warmly,
Laurie L. C. Lewis
Nichole Giles


Friday, June 13, 2014

Elemental Hunger and Girls On Fire.

Okay guys, seriously, I'm pretty sure this will be my last "buy this book" post for at least a month. It's just that THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT BOOKS being released in June.

And it's summer.

And summer is a great time for reading.

And, and, and...

This is just a thing you don't want to miss out on.

So I have to share. First, I"m so excited because, as you all know, I am a huge fan of Elana Johnson's work, and this week she released Elemental Hunger, a BRAND NEW fantasy series. The prequel, Elemental Rush, was released last month on all platforms.

But even better...

Elemental Hunger is available as part of the Girls On Fire boxed set, which is made up of TEN books by ten amazing authors, and the whole shebang is available for .99 on Amazon this week. DID YOU GET THAT? 10 books. .99. CRAZY!

Okay, so you definitely want to keep reading. Here's a little info about Elana's Elemental Hunger series:



About Elemental Rush: Eighteen-year-old Adam Gillman has trained for twelve years to earn a coveted spot on the Supreme Elemental’s elite sentry squad. His brother, Felix, is the commander, but Adam is still thrilled when his official assignment to serve Alexander Pederson comes. 

He moves into nicer quarters and can stop getting up at four a.m. to complete his mandated work out time. He still rises early though, because he needs the solitude of early morning to practice his airmaking Element—something that Adam has kept secret from everyone, even Felix, because he can’t be both an Airmaker and a sentry.

When Alex assigns him to kill a group of rogue Elementals, he balks at completing his mission for the first time. See, his only friend is Isaiah Hawking, and he’s the Earthmover on the accused Council. When faced with the prospect of killing him, Adam finds he can’t do it.

He’s well trained in assassination, but he thought he’d be murdering bad guys—not innocents.

When Alex buries the Elemental Academy—and kills over one thousand Elementals—in a fit of rage, Adam’s loyalty cracks. When he discovers that Alex is really a woman, and his brother’s lover, he defects. He hops from city to city, from Elemental school to Elemental school, always escaping only minutes before Felix can embed a knife in his heart or a tsunami can make a classroom his watery grave.

He tries to fight back, but he’s just one Airmaster with exceptional tracking skills. He does his best to warn those in danger, but as the last Elemental school goes up in flames, he knows he needs to get some real firepower on his side.

ELEMENTAL RUSH is a prequel novella to the full-length futuristic fantasy novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER, which is also available now.

Find this novella on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo, and Wattpad


About Elemental Hunger: The second installment in the Elemental series, a new futuristic fantasy for young adults and new adults, ELEMENTAL HUNGER is a full-length novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Kilpatrick can shoot fire from her hands, which would be great if she didn’t get blamed for a blazing inferno that kills 17 schoolmates. When Gabby is commanded to Manifest her Element, everyone knows what she is: a genetic abnormality. Not to mention guilty.

So she does two logical things to survive.
1. She runs.
2. She hacks off her hair to assume a new role—that of “Gabe”, because in her world, only boys are Firemakers.

Not only does she have to act like a guy, she has to pretend to know everything a Firemaker should know. When Gabby meets Airmaster Adam Gillman, he believes her act and pledges to serve on “Gabe’s” Council. But Adam has the mark of a sentry and spent years obeying Alex, the Supreme Elemental. And Alex wants Gabby-the-genetic-freak dead and gone before she can gather the magical protection of a full Council.

With Adam’s lies that sound like truths and rumors that Alex isn’t really a Firemaker—or a man—Gabby sets out to charter a Council of her own. In order to uncover the truth, Gabby will have to learn who she can trust, how to control her own power, and most of all, how to lead a Council of Elementals, most of whom have more control over their power than she does. If she can’t, she’ll find herself just like those 17 schoolmates: burned and six feet under.

Look for the third and final installment, ELEMENTAL RELEASE, an Elemental novella, coming on July 2, 2014.

Find this novel on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, B&N, and Kobo

  

 Okay, and now about the Girls on Fire boxed set: 


*Purchased individually, these books cost nearly $18 - List price $9.99 - Save 90% - Now on sale for only .99 cents!* 

This multi-author boxed set features 10 titles from popular YA authors, all centered around GIRLS ON FIRE -- a powerful YA heroine kicking butt and fighting for love. 

Over 1400 virtual pages, with a brand-new YA title from Elana Johnson, and extras for fans of Rachel Morgan, Lee Strauss, Laura Howard, Lani Woodland, Christy Dorrity, Tamara Hart Heiner, Amber Argyle, Angela Corbett, and Cindy Hogan. 

WITCH FALL – Amber Argyle 
High Fantasy 
Supreme in their dominion over seasons, storms, and sea, the witches have forgotten the unmatched destructiveness of mankind. And among the weapons men seek are the magical songs of the witches. Born of witches but raised among their enemies, Lilette searches for a way to heal the rift between mankind and the witches. But it may be too late to save either. For if there is one thing Lilette has come to know for certain, it’s that all things fall. 

ETERNAL STARLING – Angela Corbett 
Paranormal Romance 
For centuries, Alex Night and Emil Stone have yearned for Evie Starling. When both men claim to be her soul mate and tell her about an unbelievable past, Evie learns that she’s not the person she thought she was, and her soul is about to become the rope in an eternal tug-of-war. 

AWAKENING – Christy Dorrity 
Fantasy 
When an ancient curse threatens McKayla McCleery's family, she must decide what in her life is real and what is fantasy. Based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy that is rife with magic, romance, and mystery. 

INEVITABLE – Tamara Hart Heiner 
Suspense 
Visions of death plague Jayne, who thinks watching her sister die is the worst that could happen to her. But when she witnesses a murder, Jayne realizes that the next death she sees might be her own. 

WATCHED – Cindy M. Hogan 
Romantic Suspense 
Change. She longed for it. 
A murder. She will never be the same. 

THE FORGOTTEN ONES – Laura Howard 
Fantasy 
Allison O'Malley doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his fairy tale about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity. 

ELEMENTAL HUNGER – Elana Johnson 
Futuristic Fantasy 
Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Kilpatrick can shoot fire from her hands, which would be great if she didn’t get blamed for a blazing inferno that kills 17 schoolmates. Gabby will have to learn who she can trust, how to control her own power, and most of all, how to lead a Council of Elementals, most of whom have more control over their power than she does. If she can’t, she’ll find herself just like those 17 schoolmates: burned and six feet under. 

THE FAERIE GUARDIAN – Rachel Morgan 
Fantasy 
Kickbutt faerie Violet is about to graduate as the top guardian trainee of her class, but when an assignment goes wrong and the human boy she’s meant to be protecting follows her back into the fae realm, a dangerous plot is set in motion. 

PERCEPTION – Lee Strauss 
Dystopian/Romance 
Eternal Life is to Die For. 
A spoiled genetically altered girl needs the help of a jaded “natural” boy to find her missing brother. 

INTRINSICAL – Lani Woodland 
Paranormal 
The gene that allows the women in Yara’s family to see and communicate with spirits seems to have passed her over. Until the night she rescues a local hottie from an attacking ghost. Her act of heroism attracts the attention of the evil spirit, and she finds herself entrenched in the middle of a sixty-year-old curse that haunts the school, threatening her own life as well as that of her friends. 

Together, these books have over 500 5-star reviews on Amazon.

You can get your Girls On Fire boxed set on Amazon. 


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

PARANOIA by J.R. Johansson, a Convention To Do List, and a Giveaway

Okay, first, guys, last week's DESCENDANT / BIRTHRIGHT blast promotion was so much fun. I have a lot of new followers here and also on all my social networking sites, and more new readers than I ever dreamed. DESCENDANT spent the entire week in the #1 spot for Young Adult Paranormal and Urban Fantasy, as well as the #1 spot for Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy, and BIRTHRIGHT sales are climbing like crazy. I'm counting the week as a smashing success. Thank you so much to everyone who participated in any way. I adore you. 
*blows kisses*

For those of you who are new here, you will soon learn that I have a thing for writer's conferences and conventions. I love them. They're exhausting, and expensive, so I do have to limit myself sometimes, but when I attend something, I tend to find all the partying-est parties. And meet the partying-est people. And make the most outrageous memories. Because I think if you're going to do something great, you might as well make it as great as possible. 

One of my very favorite conventions is WorldCON, the world-wide science fiction and fantasy convention. I've been twice now. (I am currently not planning to attend this year as it's in London, but my WorldCON friends are all going, and miracles have been known to happen. *coughcough*) Both times, I spent my week rooming and hanging out with the lovely J.R. Johansson, author of INSOMNIA and this week's new release, PARANOIA. 

Since all the other posts on this blog tour are all about PARANOIA, today, on the day of the PARANOIA launch party (which I can't attend because I'm far away in Texas), we thought we'd take a break from the book-ish posts and instead do one about authors and parties. The following advice is drawn from our experience attending WorldCon together, where we behaved...well, if not like total professionals...then at least like people that were having more fun than is considered legal in 12 states.

So here it is. J.R. Johansson's and my official Convention To-Do list (in no particular order):

1. Find the human outline on the floor in the Klingon party and act panicked, then hurry and lie down to see if it matches your body.
2. Throw cookies off a 19th floor balcony, and then rescue those cookies from the street an hour later. 
3. Sit on George R.R. Martin's lap while wearing tiara, and claiming you have officially WON the Game of Thrones.
4. Hijack a freight elevator with 11 other people, because there's a line to get on the ones meant for "guests." 
5. Go on a quest that results in you being knighted by a highly famous author waving a glowing sword. 
6. Be serenaded by an opera-singer diva who is dying to let the world know it's someone's birthday. 
7. Find the ONLY party with music and a disco ball and start a near-riot by bringing all your new friends from the elevator. 
8. Dress up in corsets to attend the Masquerade, and pretend you're Nevada show-girls along the way.
9. Ride an elevator with lampshades on your heads (not the freight elevator). 
10. Have impromptu dance parties in other people's hotel rooms. Start by doing the Macarena. 
11. Experience late night Aussie renditions of Monty Python tunes.
12. Throw late night rooftop parties complete with ipod battles that involve bands like Imagine Dragons.
13. Become besties with Harry Potter, Westley from the Princess Bride, the Ghostbusters, and Daenerys Targaryen. Also, the Hound. Woof.
14. Steal a Hugo. (And, okay, then give it back.)
15. Take a ride in a Tardis, and learn how to work the controls.
16. Have a sword battle with a Jedi.
17. Sneak into a private publisher party through the back door and then pretend you belong there.
18. Rescue a gentle giant from nearly falling into a bathtub filled with pop cans and ice.
19. Visit Japan, Helsinki, Boston, Texas, New Zealand, and Orlando all within an hour. 
20. Cram 8 people into a car built for four and go for a drive while all singing. Don't get pulled over by police.  

Disclaimer: this list was created by professionals and some of these activities should not be attempted without adult supervision. Or something like that.  

Okay, and now onto bookish stuff and PARANOIA: 


With Every Night of Blissful Sleep Darkness Grows Inside Him.

In the aftermath of the events that nearly killed him, Parker Chipp is trying to learn to cope better with life as a Watcher. And it seems to be working...until he wakes up in jail with a hangover and 12 hours of missing time. Darkness has somehow taken control and Parker doesn't have a clue how to stop him. He finds an unlikely ally in Jack, the mysterious guy in the motorcycle jacket who offers to help Parker master his abilities as a Watcher. But even as they practice, the darkness inside Parker is getting more and more powerful, taking over Parker’s body and doing everything he can to destroy Parker's life.

When Jack reveals that there is another kind of Night Walker, known as a Taker, Parker starts to wonder if the strange things happening in Oakville are more than just a coincidence. After all, people are more than just sleepwalking. They're emptying their savings accounts with no memory of doing so, wandering into strange parts of town and disappearing, they're even killing other people--all in their sleep. If Parker wants to find out what's happening or have any hope of seeing his father again, he’ll have to defy Jack and put his own life in danger...because the more he learns about these other Night Walkers, the more certain he becomes that his life isn't the only one that could be lost.

J.R. JOHANSSON is a young adult thriller author. Her books INSOMNIA, PARANOIA (June 2014), and a third untitled book (June 2015) are with Flux Books. CUT ME FREE (Winter 2015) and another untitled book (Winter 2016) will be coming out with FSG/Macmillan.  She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. When she's not writing, she loves reading, playing board games, and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she can do all three at the same time. She has two young sons and a wonderful husband. In fact, other than her cat, Cleo, she's nearly drowning in testosterone.

Jenn’s Links -
                                       
Pre-order Links –

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