Winner Takes All Giveaway

Hi lovely readers,
I’m participating in the Winner Takes All Giveaway, hosted by Rainy Kaye. Twenty-eight ebooks are up for grabs and all will go to one lucky winner. There’s a whole mix of genres represented, from sci-fi and fantasy, to non-fiction, erotica, suspense, and even a picture book. Each cover links to the book’s Amazon description page and the Rafflecopter link is at the very bottom.

There are lots of chances to earn entries and get to be that winner. Soooo, good luck!

Scroll to the bottom to enter to win all 28 ebooks! There’s a little of everything, for a total of over $85 worth of ebooks. Winner takes all!

summoned_cover_final_bigger the forever girl sunbolt magicless misfortune the polaris uprising the zodiac collectr prophecy girl no good deed his source hidden gene cards fearless and feminine famine echoes fairy texas robot awareness sac sex ray specs copper ravens carnies redcap baba ali a home for jesse radiant shadows killing jena crane tort wally

Thar be the link ye’ll be wantin’ to follow –> a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dear Authors…

TantrumApparently we need to have a conversation about behavior. Again.

I’ll be brief.

Don’t get all huffy with readers/reviewers/editors when they tell you (honestly) that your book is a turd.

Readers are your friends. Editors are your friends. Reviewers are your friends. These people want you to succeed. If your book sucks, fix it instead of whining. It is your product and not a reflection of your value as a human being. If your ego is too fragile to take criticism, find another career. You will NOT last as an author.

If you insist upon behaving worse than most two-year-olds, the rest of us will start to hate you. Really.

“But–” you say.

No &$#*@-ing buts. Your book sucks. You want someone to pay you for it? Fix it. There are no excuses for selling crap. And we are sick and tired of your complaints, B.S., abuse (of said readers/editors/reviewers), and laziness. Writing is hard work which, unlike the rest of us, you apparently failed to realize.

So do your job or get another one.

Famine #74: Bones & Iron Crosses

It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in Weekend Writing Warriors, and it feels good to be back. Today’s snippet is from Famine. Bartholomew is dreaming of his first encounter with Famine (when he was only a boy and known as Bartholomeus).

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Famine by Monica Pierce

 

Bartholomeus scrambled to his feet, turned to run, and was blocked by the woman. She had auburn hair, fair skin, and hard, green eyes. She circled him, studied him, and touched his tunic and his hands. She seized his shaggy, brown hair, leaned close, and sniffed him. “What are you called?”

“Bartholomeus,” he mumbled and watched her hands. She wore bones and iron crosses. And she carried a blackened dagger at her waist.

 

 

**LIMITED TIME SALE ON FAMINE**

This weekend only, Famine is on sale at Amazon for $0.99. Here’s the description; I hope you’ll give the book a read. Thanks!

Apocalyptics_Famine_600x800After fifteen centuries of searching, Bartholomew Pelletier has finally found the weapon that will stop the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from bringing the End of Days. But wielding it means the death of the person he holds dearest. To save mankind will he sacrifice his young ward Matilde?

*Famine is a gritty, character-driven novel that combines dark fantasy, historical fantasy, paranormal, and urban fantasy elements to create a unique twist on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first novel in a four-book series, it contains graphic violence, strong language, sexual content, and bowler hats, and is intended for mature readers.*

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And please take a moment to check out all the other WeWriWa snippets this week. Many great writers to be discovered and revisited.

Sale! Rankings! Review! (Oh my.)

Hi Guys!
It’s been a month(?!) since I posted here. Been busy with back to school for Mini Me, got vertigo and couldn’t drive (or move very quickly) without the world spinning. (A very interesting and, ultimately, annoying experience.) But I have a few tidbits to share before the weekend gets swinging.

*************$0.99 SALE!*************

Until 9/14 both Famine and Girl Under Glass will be priced at $0.99 each. Get ’em while the gettin’s good (and cheap). Next week they’ll be heading back to regular price territory.

Yeah, baby!

Yeah, baby!

Both books are in the top 5,000 paid titles in Amazon’s Kindle store as I type this, and both landed in the top 20 in their respective sub-genres this week. (Famine hit #19 in dark fantasy; GUG hit #8 in dystopian fiction.) That makes both bestsellers! –>

Finally, if you’ve read either book and not yet left a review on Amazon or Goodreads, please take a moment to leave feedback and/or a rating. You don’t have to write a tome, a few honest words will do, and I will be ever so grateful. (Plus, you’re words help my books’ standings on Amazon; the more reviews, the higher the rankings and the more their recommendation engine promotes them.)

I’ll leave you with these words from the latest review on Famine courtesy of A Tiffy Fit’s Reading Corner: “5.0 out of 5 stars — Enthralling, un-put-down-able, re-readable, a kindle bruiser for sure.” (See the entire review on Amazon or Goodreads.)

Meet My Character Blog Tour Revisited

Déjà vu, anyone? Yep, I’ve been invited to participate in the Meet My Character Blog Tour for the second time. I figured I’d feature Matilde for this pass, since she’s the other main player in Famine.

But first, thanks go to LK Gardner-Griffie for inviting me to participate in the tour. LK LKGardner-Griffiewrites award-winning contemporary fiction for children and young adults, and her Misfit McCabe series has garnered multiple Pearson Prize Teen Choice Awards. LK is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin Literary Management, and her next release (co-authored with Luke Matthews) will be Timmy and the Golden Lion Tamarin from True North Publishing.

And now for the feature presentation:

Famine by Monica PierceWhat is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Matilde Anne Royce. She’s a fictional character in a historical setting.

When and where is the story set?
The book spans a decade from 1895 to 1906. It begins in New York City, moves to Seattle, and ends in San Francisco.

What should we know about him/her?
She’s eight years old when the book begins, and she grows up during the course of the story. She’s fierce yet vulnerable, coquettish but not whiney, and definitely a survivor. Matilde is destined to become the Catcher, the only entity capable of catching and containing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Matilde comes from an impoverished and abusive home in New York City’s infamous Five Points (remember Gangs of New York?), so her life is already messed up when we first meet her. But, shortly after Bartholomew finds her, Famine’s henchmen (the cadavers) follow him back to Matilde’s tenement. The cadavers murder her family and burn down the building. Bartholomew protects her, makes her his ward, and begins training her to do battle with Famine and her cadavers. Matilde chafes beneath his strict tutelage, but she also comes to see him as a father. However, it’s what Matilde doesn’t know about her destiny and her guardian that will kill her.

What is the personal goal of the character?
Matilde wants revenge against the cadavers who murdered her little brother Samuel. She also wants to be loved, have friends, and figure out what makes Bartholomew tick.

Apocalyptics_Famine_600x800Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Famine: Book One of The Apocalyptics. More information can be found at http://iwantth.is/faminek.

When can we expect the book to be published?
Famine is available now in print and ebook formats from Amazon. (It’s part of the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited programs.)

Now to pass the torch. I hope you’ll take a moment from your day on September 1 to visit Deborah Mitton and Mary Melrose.

DeborahI recently met Deborah Mitton via Twitter and was immediately intrigued by her historical thriller Ten for the Devil, “a dark tale of obsession, revenge, murder, seduction, a love curse, reparation and survival.” You can find her via FacebookTwitter, or on Goodreads.

StolenMary Melrose is another new Twitter friend, and she’s hard at work on the Stolen by the Brotherhood fantasy romance trilogy. Of her trilogy Mary writes, “If you like Divergent, Immortal Instruments, the Secret Circle or The Hunger Games you will love Stolen by the Brotherhood.” You can find Mary on Facebook and Twitter.

Tools for Writers: The Tension Edit

Every so often I learn about a tool or technique that I find useful. I figured some of you might want to give them a try, too. So this is my first in what will be an ongoing Tools for Writers series.

This is a post I originally wrote for Selah Tay-Song‘s Things I Wish I’d Known (#TIWIK) series. Selah read my Writing Process post and was intrigued by my use of the tension edit. She asked me to contribute a post about it for her series, and I was delighted to oblige her. (Thank you, Selah!)

The Tension Edit: Creating a Page-Turner

photo (1)Tension. Without it your book’s plot falls flat. But what creates it? Simply put: worry. When readers worry about your characters, they’re compelled to turn the pages. Raise questions on every page: “What’s gonna happen?” “Why did she do that?” “How will he react to this?” and you’ll hook your readers. But how do you do that page after page for 200, 300, 400+ pages? By using micro-tension to create concerns (minor and not-so-minor). Micro-tension can directly point to your book’s primary question, or it can introduce smaller concerns that underlie that question (aspects of character motivation and secondary plot, for instance). And the best tool I’ve found for creating micro-tension is a tension edit*.

Okay… So what’s a tension edit?

It’s a page-by-page edit with the manuscript pages taken completely out of order. It divests you, the writer, of context and permits you to focus on clarity (and tension) within each sentence in order to plant those nagging little questions for your readers.

Why is the manuscript out of order?

Micro-vision = micro-tension. It’s easy to get caught up in a scene and miss its components. By removing the “big picture” you can focus on the individual building blocks of each sentence, paragraph, and page. (Note: The tension edit is the last step before copyediting.)

Sounds crazy. How does this madness work?

photo (5)It starts with a full, unmarked manuscript and open floor space. Uh, why? Because you’re going to spend twenty minutes throwing your entire manuscript around the room. Yes, really. (Hint: If you have young children, task them with this part of the process. They’ll love you for it.) The physical act of scattering your book everywhere breaks you from the “My Precioussss” syndrome that developed while you were writing and doing the big picture edits.
Now that you have paper everywhere, pick up the pages (check beneath furniture and behind the couch; trust me on this), and make sure none is in sequential order. Get your red pen, take a deep breath, and begin. You’re looking for opportunities to raise questions by:

  • Manipulating pace and mood.
  • Making your content work on multiple levels.
  • Creating a sense of unease. (This is where action or, sometimes, inaction speaks louder than words.)

Apocalyptics_Famine_600x800Examples from Famine

Example A:

Original: Bartholomew skirted the woman and the pale, plucked carcass she’d thrust into his path, his thoughts uninterrupted.

Tension edit note: Bartholomew skirted the woman and the pale, plucked carcass she’d thrust into his path, his thoughts uninterrupted.

Published version: Bartholomew skirted the butcher and the pale, plucked carcass that the man had thrust into his path.

Crows. Doubtless they were haunting him for a reason.

Why these changes?: (Putting aside the butcher’s sex change.) There was no reason to state “his thoughts uninterrupted” when it could be shown by Bartholomew’s actions and thought (Crows.). That simple change served five purposes:

  1. It showed his thoughts being uninterrupted.
  2. It made for a more physically and emotionally dynamic passage.
  3. It conveyed something about Bartholomew’s character and physicality. (He’s focused, forward moving, agile.)
  4. Including his thought hinted at a greater dynamic in play (beyond what appears in the scene).
  5. It made the crows into characters.

(Note: This is what I mean when I say your content should work on multiple levels.)

What questions have been raised?: Who is Bartholomew? Why is he so focused? Why are the crows following him? How can the crows have enough sentience to be following him deliberately? How does he know they’re following him?

Example B:

Original: Mrs. Henderson lifted the bowl of water from the dining room table. “This has never been about revenge, Monsieur.” She went to the kitchen.

Bartholomew met Matilde’s gaze expecting her to pepper him with questions that followed her governess’s line of conversation, but the girl surprised him.

“Whatever is between you and Mrs. Henderson makes no difference, Monsieur. This is about avenging Samuel for me…”

Tension edit note: Mrs. Henderson lifted the bowl of water from the dining room table. “This has never been about revenge, Monsieur.” She went to the kitchen.

Bartholomew met Matilde’s gaze expecting her to pepper him with questions that followed her governess’s line of conversation, but the girl surprised him.

“Whatever is between you and Mrs. Henderson makes no difference, Monsieur. This is about avenging Samuel for me…”

Published version: “This has never been about revenge,” Mrs. Henderson said before she disappeared into the hallway. The rattle of his tea service and the squeak of the floorboards followed.

Matilde spoke without looking up from her work. “Whatever is between you and Mrs. Henderson makes no difference. For me this is about vengeance…”

Why these changes?: As with Example A, here the initial passage told the reader about Bartholomew’s expectations and surprise rather than showed them. The editorial note got the readers further into Bartholomew’s mind, but still didn’t show his reaction, nor did it trust them to pick up on the subtleties of the moment. While questions were created, they were soft. The final passage strengthened those questions by:

  1. Cutting out the telling aspects of the exchange and plunging the readers into Bartholomew’s point of view.
  2. Adding sensory details to emphasize Mrs. Henderson’s departure and disapproval.
  3. Assuming that readers understand Bartholomew and Matilde enough by now (this is page 136) to recognize her show of maturity and to know that he sees it, too.
  4. Strengthening Matilde without lessening Bartholomew. In fact, removing the telling aspect of the initial version empowered him with silence. (No reaction is a valid and, often, weighty reaction.)

What questions have been raised?: How will Bartholomew respond to Mrs. Henderson’s disapproval? Will she do something to defy him and stop Matilde from having her revenge? What are Matilde’s intentions? Is she about to start trouble? Will he let her?

photo (2)The tension edit has taught me to look for opportunities on every page to make readers wonder. It has forced me to make each sentence convey multiple meanings and to build a bigger picture by constantly raising questions. And it’s made my books page-turners. Better yet, since I began using this tool, my draft writing has become tighter and cleaner.

If you want to increase clarity and build tension in your writing, divest yourself of the context of your sentences and paragraphs by utilizing the tension edit. You’ll see your stories for the opportunities that they are (or aren’t but should be), and every sentence in your work will drive your reader to wonder: What’s gonna happen?

*Note: Credit goes to agent Donald Maass for introducing me to this technique.

Readers and Cake

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Having anyone buy one of my books is suh-wheet! Hearing feedback from readers is icing on the cake. But having them recommend my books to their friends and family? That’s like the fancy-schmancy decorations that you see on that there cake.

Recently I received the following note from a U.K. reader:

I just wanted to share this with you….

I have been recommending Famine to anybody that will listen to me, I loved it so much I want to spread the word, and one of my colleagues picked up a copy recently and has just come to me to say:
‘Thanks for that book recommendation, I’ve nearly finished it and it’s been really good. I was surprised at how down to earth it is, the way the four characters bounce off one another. It’s quite real, quite believable. Yeh, I’m really enjoying it, you’ll have to tell me when the next one is out…’
You see, you’ve got another follower eagerly waiting for the second in the series. You’ve got us all hooked! 🙂

This, you guys, this is why I want every novel that I release to be the best book I can possibly create. Yes, I’m writing stories that I want to read. And, yes, I want them to have legs so that my daughter will inherit a creative legacy that’s worth something. But I never forget that every word must hold weight and every tale must have meaning for all of you, as well. Every book should be an experience that resonates from the moment you see the cover to the time you read “The End”.

We’re in this together, dear readers, you and me and all those heroic, beleaguered characters.

Thank you for buying, reviewing, and recommending my novels to other readers.

You’re the flowers on my cake.

Monica

Meet My Character Blog Tour

Thanks to Shari Sakurai, I’ve been invited to take part in the Meet My Character Blog Tour. Seems pretty self-explanatory, eh? So let’s get going. First I’d like to introduce you lovely readers to Shari, and then we’ll get to my character, Bartholomew:

Shari Sakurai has always loved to write and published her debut novel, Demon’s Blood, in January 2014. Demon’s Blood is the first of her planned vampire novels. Shari is very interested in other countries’ cultures and mythology; in particular Japan. Japanese themes and influences can often be found in her work. Shari’s second novel, Perfect World, will be released on 19th July 2014.

Website: http://www.sharisakurai.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sharisakurai
Twitter: @ShariSakurai
Blog: http://sharisakurai.wordpress.com/

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What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Bartholomew Etienne Pelletier (AKA Bartholomeus or Monsieur). He’s a fictional character in a historical setting.

When and where is the story set?
The book spans a decade from 1895 to 1906. It begins in New York City, moves to Seattle, and ends in San Francisco.

What should we know about him/her?
He’s been alive for 1,500 years, he was a Gallo-Roman centurion, and he can rip your soul outta your body. (Not a pleasant experience.)

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
At twelve, Bartholomew fell under the influence of Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Now, 1,500 year later, he’s finally found the person who can help free him from Famine’s influence (and prevent her from summoning the other Horsemen to destroy the world). Unfortunately that person is an eight-year-old girl and, ultimately, she’ll have to die if she’s going to become an immortal warrior and help him. But Bartholomew isn’t a monster, and he refuses to condemn a child to a war with Famine. So the main conflict for him is how to raise and train this girl, Matilde, knowing that she’ll have to die at his hands in order to save all innocent souls from being enslaved by the Horsemen. He sets out determined not to come to love her like a daughter, but Matilde’s a feisty one and his defenses can’t hold.

What is the personal goal of the character?
Bartholomew’s goal is to get free of Famine’s influence and prevent her from summoning her brothers. He’s also determined to give Matilde as normal a childhood as possible. (A tall order when he’s mentally and physically training her to face Famine’s army of soulless cadavers.)

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Famine: Book One of The Apocalyptics. More information can be found at http://iwantth.is/faminek

When can we expect the book to be published?
Famine is available now in print and ebook formats from Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

Now here are five other writers you should know. Next Monday (7/21) you’ll be able to check out their Meet My Characters posts on their respective blogs:

Jess ShiraJessica Shira is an avid reader, a ghostwriter and novelist, and an equestrian. Her Georgian holiday romance, Snowflakes and Beeswax, is available from Amazon. We met via Six Sentence Sunday (now defunct), and, I’m happy to say, have kept in touch via Weekend Writing Warriors. Jessica’s love of animals shows in all her work and her Facebook posts always make me smile.

C. Michael LorionChad writes speculative fiction, and his first novel, Totem, is a unique blend of time travel, dark fantasy, and Native American mythology. We met via the Fringe Fiction group on Goodreads, and I admire his tireless devotion to learning his craft and connecting with his readers and fellow authors.

Teresa CypherTeresa Cypher writes beautifully human science fiction, and I regularly nag her to release her books so the rest of the world can enjoy what I’ve had the privilege of reading via Weekend Writing Warriors. Teresa is also one of the most encouraging writers I know, and I’m delighted to introduce her to my readers.

 

Steven MontanoSteven Montano is the author of the Blood Skies series, the Skullborn novels, and a number of other books that are dark, bloody, and speculative. Path of Bones is his most recent offering. He lives in Detroit, a place only slightly more terrifying than his mind, and he believes that vampires should be vicious not sparkly.

goranGoran Zidar is the author of five sci-fi novels, including TK Thirteen (which has one of my favorite covers). I’m antsy to get my hands on his ongoing serial, Revenant, (revealed in eight sentences each week via Weekend Writing Warriors) when it’s finally released as a complete book.

Shit I Don’t Need to Know

NOTE: I published this one about a year ago, but came across it just now, reread, and decided I like it enough to republish.

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So you know when you’re cranking along on your story about the Druids in space, and you come to that part in the manuscript where there’s an epic space battle, and you suddenly realize you don’t know anything about astrophysics or physics or weaponry or astro-weaponry (if that’s a real thing)? That’s the point where you have to decide how much of this shit you need to know in order to get that epic space battle down on paper.

Micah'sphotos 913This is known in my household as The Rabbit Hole. (I suppose I could call it The Black Hole when I’m working on sci-fi, but whatever.) Now, if you’ve followed my blog(s) or my various feeds, you’ve probably figured out that I love to gets me some meaty research. To me, research is the fastest way out of writer’s block, it spawns amazing plot twists, it helps characters evolve into people. But The Rabbit Hole is a dangerous place for writers. You can get sucked into a research Funhouse of Facts that quickly leads you to darkness and despair when you realize there’s just so damned much you don’t know.

Well, stay focused on the reason you turned to research and employ a link app like Delicious.com. Do I need to know that changes in a pregnant mother’s environment can have a direct impact on the epigenome of her unborn child, as well as that child’s future child? If I’m working on The Apocalyptic Series (dark fantasy), probably not. But I’m sure gonna save that link for when I do need it! Click on that little Delicious icon and — boom! — it’s saved. Does it pertain to this manuscript, but not this immediate research need? Then Trello.com* is my destination. There I have my projects broken into cards (think of them like index cards) that cover different aspects of each novel (ex. Research, Marketing, Plot, Editing).

Now, what was I looking for? Right. I can get back on track.

But there’s another side of this issue. And that’s whether or not you really need to know as much as you think you do. This is the funhouse part. Where you’re so lost and confused and thinking you don’t know how far down The Rabbit Hole you’ve fallen and need to fall in order to start climbing back out. I’m gonna help you. Repeat after me:

I don’t need to know all of this shit.

That’s right. Give yourself permission to put a little note in the text that says, “Need some scientific shit here,” and keep writing. Will this cause problems later? Maybe. Maybe not. The thing is, you’ll get to a point in the manuscript where you know you need to go back and fill in that research blank because it’s going to inform what happens next, but when the story is cranking, don’t be stopped by the shit you don’t need to know (at that moment and/or ever).

I don’t need to know all of this shit. <– Advice to live by.

*More to come about Trello in a later post. Can’t recommend this app enough!