Tran’zr series…coming soon

I’m currently working on the first book in a paranormal romance series. I’m finding it fun, and definitely different from any of the other books I’ve written.

Here’s a draft of the blurb that will go on the back of the book:

Changing dance partners can be dangerous. When a young lawyer waltzes into Terra’s life, she decides to give him a whirl. But when she tangoes with Death, someone she never expected dips into her life and steals her heart.

I’ve already gotten some book cover ideas from my pal at DL Design and Digital Art, which I’ve posted here. (If you like any of the designs, let me know. I always enjoy learning what appeals to folks.)

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The short synopsis is:

I’m Terra McGinley…Tran’zr and technical writer, and I’m dating-impaired. I’m okay at getting first dates (though my mom would say otherwise—she’s always trying to fix me up; if it’s male, single, and over the age of consent, she’ll drag it home for me to meet.) However, when it comes to follow-up dates…well, let’s just say that my mother shouldn’t expect to hear wedding bells any time soon.

Being a tran’zr is a part-time gig—which is a good thing, because the pay is non-existent and the hours are horrible; otherwise, it’s a great job. Tran’zrs help transition people from the physical world to the spiritual and vice versa. Some people call us Grim Reapers, while others refer to us as Death Escorts, but we prefer Transitioner, or Tran’zr for short.

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A Review of “Accidental Ashes”

xoe2“Accidental Ashes: or that time I found out I was a demon, and all my friends were vampires and werewolves” by Sara Roethle

Summary: Last year Xoe’s life was turned upside-down. Things haven’t improved much. With the lives of her friends at risk, Xoe forgets to worry about another life…her own. With the reappearance of a face from her very distant past, and a random string of abductions to deal with, Xoe has to fight to keep things together. Even if ‘together’ is a far cry, ahem…howl, from the norm.

Recommendation: Yes

Review:

This second book was even better than the first Xoe book. In fact, it was so good as to appear effortless (the markings of a truly wonderful story teller). The characters interacted seamlessly and I felt quite at home with them. It was like visiting with family that I hadn’t seen in a while.

Nuances of the author’s world popped up here and there, sprinkled throughout the story like confetti at a party. With each occurrence, I found myself nodding and thinking, “Of course, that’s the way [this] world works…” Her world is nearly as rich and complete as Harry Potter’s or Rachel Morgan’s (The Hollows series by Kim Harrison), and her characters were, also.

In fact, if there is anything I have to nitpick about in her book it was the way in which she handled the interplay between Xoe and her mom. In this book, Xoe needs to cope with a lot of new and (to her) surprising information about herself and her friends. She is then confronted with her long-missing father and the truth as to who he is and why he left. Xoe handles it all surprisingly well, but her mother does not. While this is understandable—after all, in real life, people handle things in various ways and with varying degrees of competency—the part I object to is Xoe offering her mother some pain medication that Xoe was given when, at the end of the first book, she broke her arm. Instead of admonishing her daughter for sharing prescription meds with others, mom says, “…sure, why not…” and takes the meds.

I find this wrong on so many levels, but two of them stand out the most. First off, what authors write does influence others. So many people read a book wherein someone admits to doing a particular action or believing in some concept, and the reader thinks, “…well, if this person does it, then it must be okay that I do, too…” The reader doesn’t always make the distinction between life and fictional characters. The fact that the author has the protagonist doing this, thinking this, or saying this, makes the reader think that it’s okay.

The second reason I found it “wrong” is that it is a weak mechanism for getting a character out of a situation that the author isn’t sure how to cope with (I know, I’ve done it, too, and I’ve taken the criticism for it). I get it, that some people don’t handle stress, confrontations, or large amounts of negative information well. But Xoe’s mom didn’t seem to be the type to avoid life by hiding behind pills, booze, or sleep. In fact, in book 1, Xoe’s mom seemed almost as much of a real go-getter as Xoe. So, for mom to suddenly seek escape from life in pills and sleep seemed a bit like the author seeking escape from having to deal with this secondary character.

However, since mom isn’t a major character, I was willing to let it go…mostly. I still worry about young adults seeing the sharing of meds as something that’s all right, though, since mom not only condoned it, but participated in it.

So, except for that one minor point, this was definitely a 4-star book. And I truly believe that C. Roethle will be the next Kim Harrison…just for a slightly younger set of readers.

I just love it!

I don’t know which I’m more proud of, the fact that I have a two-ebook-collection ready for sale, or the great cover that DL-Designs and Digital Art created for it on such short notice.

bk1-2cover

So, what do you think? Isn’t it a great cover?!

To check out the 2-book set go to Smashwords.

How Far Should You Go?

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1As a reader and author what do you consider too sexy? I have to admit that as a reader, I’m prone to skimming. That means, while I appreciate the good, steamy build up, I don’t really care to read about the consummation of the act. (I’m an adult, I get how the mechanics work. So, unless it’s a sex-how-to manual or an x-rated adult book, the mechanics only slow the story down for me). Therefore, as an author, I tend to write the steamy build ups and the glowing aftermaths; but, I leave the actual act to the reader’s imagination.

I suppose I could include all the details and let the reader decide for him- or herself whether to read it or skim past it, and I know there are plenty of authors who do just that. Yet, I can’t help thinking of all the interesting books and hunky/sexy characters that leave the reader at the other side of the bedroom door—such as Dirk Pitt, Stephanie Plum, or Rachel Morgan—and still manage to let us know that they are anything but celibate.

But, as a reader, I’ve encountered too many books where the story practically dies just so the author can throw in some gratuitous sex scenes. If I’m reading a murder mystery, I’m looking for clues so I can figure out who done it. Throwing in a hot, steamy roll-in-the-hay (while nice), is probably not providing any clues. Instead, it’s akin to flipping channels between an action/adventure movie and a chick-flick. Your reader is left going, Huh?

I also think a lot of how the scenes are written depend on the author’s motivation for including the scenes in the first place. After all, sex sells—we’ve all witnessed that in various forms and mediums. Yet, for me, I include sex scenes in my books only when they are intrinsic to the story and not because I want to sell more books. (Although, I suppose I might reconsider my position, if including more sex in my books might translate into the kind of sales that E.L. James had.) But even if adding more sex to my stories might help my sales, I’m still not sure that I would include the actual deed.

So, how about you? Do you include sex scenes in your book? And, if so, how far do you go?

 

Editing: it’s not just proofing

There are a multitude of articles bemoaning the lack of editing that goes into independently published books. (In fact, I wrote one myself.) However, I think the point that is missed in these articles is to identify the types of editing that are needed.

Book editing requires more than just having someone go through and check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. To ensure that your book is truly the best it can be, you should also have structural, developmental, and content edits done. These types of edits ensure that your book and your story have a smooth flow, good pacing, no plot breaks or inconsistencies, consistent POV (point of view) or recognizable POV breaks, clarity, believability, and above all, readability.

That’s a lot to ask of one person, which is why you usually need several editors to go through your manuscript. Structural editing for fiction and non-fiction is a talent and a skill, honed by years of practice and a lot of knowledge about what makes a good story and a great book. These types of editors can identify where the plot drags or goes off course, explain why, and then give you suggestions as to how to fix it. It might be that you introduced a character that is flat or you took your story on a side-trip that was completely unnecessary. But unless someone points this out to you, you may never see it; because this is your ‘baby.’

Most authors fail to see the need for trimming storylines, eliminating characters, or swapping out chapters, and that’s why structural editors are so necessary and so helpful. Authors, like most artists, tend to be very protective of their creations, and the last thing we want to hear is that we need to “fix” it or change it. To us, our creations are perfect, and having someone point out the flaws in our creations hurts.

As an author of both fiction and non-fiction, I have to admit that I’ve seen my share of red and blue pencil marks on my manuscripts, and while it hurts, it hurts a lot less than having a reader tell me that they didn’t like my book, or that they liked it until page 110, where it rambled and the story got lost. I would definitely rather have an editor help me fix my manuscript than lose a reader because I didn’t want to change my perfect creation.

Once you have the structure and content set, then you need to bring someone in to check the spelling, grammar, and punctuation. And don’t think that running your system spell- and grammar-checker are enough to get you through. I can’t tell you how many times the spell- and grammar-checker has told me my manuscript was perfect, when, in fact, it had numerous egregious errors (such as homonyms or homophones that would, and should, be caught via context and content). Spell- and grammar-checkers are notoriously unreliable. While they might catch the double “the” that you accidently typed, they rarely seem to be able to use the content to determine correct word or punctuation choices.

So, if you want to ensure that your readers have an enjoyable time, you need to give them the best product you can. For most of us, that includes trading or paying for the services of a book editor who can help us perfect our creations.

Interview with the Characters from Danaria

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1A friend and I were speaking the other day about fictional characters and what it might be like to sit down with them and actually speak to them about their plans, desires, wants, and needs. I was so taken with the concept that I decided to use the library interview questions that I answered to find out more about the characters in my fantasy series. So, to find out what Joelnar, Darkwind, Neerah, Phessari, and Marek think, keep reading.

Q: What do you want most from life?

Joelnar: A quiet life of raising horses that I can share with a wife and family.
Darkwind: If not love, then at least acceptance. Everyone fears me and thinks that I’m this terrible, awful person, but they don’t know me…at least not the true me.
Neerah: I thought I wanted love and adventure, but now I’m not so sure about the adventure, anyway.
Phessari: I want to share my life with someone while using my healing talents to help people.
Marek: Honor. I want to regain, and then maintain my honor so that I and my partner can lead our people and keep our village strong.

Q: What do you notice first about people?

Joelnar: How open they are. If a person is trustworthy, they tend to be more open in the way they present themselves and speak to you, because they have nothing to hide.
Darkwind: I used to take everyone at face value. Now, however, I try to note their energy patterns to see how believable and trustworthy someone is. Despite my ‘age,’ I still have a lot to learn about people.
Neerah: I notice a person’s face and whether the person is smiling or frowning, or looks friendly or sour. If they’re sour, like old lady Enderas, then I would rather not have to spend time with them.
Phessari: Their aura. A person’s energy signature precedes them by at least four feet, so it’s the first thing I sense, and it gives me so much information about the person.
Marek: How they carry themselves. A proud and honorable person is comfortable with themselves, meets your gaze, and stands tall and strong.

Q: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

Joelnar: Dependability. I’m a very responsible person and I expect my friends to at least meet me half-way. If they tell me they’re going to do something, then I expect them to follow through.
Darkwind:
I can’t say that I have ever really had any friends. But if I did, I should like them to be understanding and kind.
Neerah: Fun. I love friends who enjoy life.
Phessari: Respect. It’s not easy for some people to respect someone with different values or beliefs. So, I really appreciate having friends who respect me.
Marek: Loyalty. When I go into battle, I expect my friends to be there with me. My fight should be their fight, and their fight is my fight.

Q: What is your main fault?

Joelnar: Dependability. I’m a very responsible person and I expect my friends to at least meet me half-way. If they tell me they’re going to do something, then I expect them to follow through.
Darkwind:
I’ve been told that I’m too controlling; but then, again, I’m rather reserved, so I get very uncomfortable in unstructured situations.
Neerah: Recklessness, I guess. Joelnar, Marmian, and my grandfather have all told me that I don’t think about the consequences of my actions; that I tend to just jump into things.
Phessari: My acceptance and my convictions in my faith. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is a believer.
Marek: Intolerance. I have been very intolerant of those who aren’t warriors or who do not follow warrior ways. I have little patience for spell-casters and the like.

Q: Do you have any regrets in your life, and if so, what?

Joelnar: Yes. I regret not going back to Darkwind’s when I first had the chance and rescuing my friend, Rafe, and my brother. But I’m determined to set them free, no matter what.
Darkwind:
I regret my interactions with Neerah. Of all those I have hurt, her pain cuts me the deepest.
Neerah: I regret not taking my opportunity with Joelnar when I had the chance back in the Forest of Reflections.
Phessari: I wish I knew more about the interactions of couples. I have spent so much time learning my skills as a healer that I have had little experience with emotional entanglements.
Marek: I regret my quick dismissal of those who do not follow the warrior’s path. I am just now beginning to understand that it takes more than being a great warrior to be a great person.

Q: What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?

Joelnar: I would like to have the touch with animals, especially horses, that my mother did. There wasn’t any animal anywhere that would shy away from her.
Darkwind:
Courage. I wish I had been braver when I first entered this world of physicality. Perhaps then, Ionee (now Neerah) would not have been so upset with me.
Neerah: Actually, I wish I could return the talent I was gifted with. I wish I couldn’t hear the gems singing, or use their power.
Phessari: I have already been blessed with so much, I would not ask the gods for more.
Marek: I have already been gifted with the skill and power of a mighty warrior. As a leader, this is the best talent to have.

Q: How do you wish to die?

Joelnar: Quietly, with my family around me.
Darkwind:
Free. If I die, I want to be free of d’Oessler’s control, and with Ionee’s forgiveness.
Neerah: I don’t wish to die at all. That’s morbid, ask me something else.
Phessari: I will accept whatever fate the gods may bless me with.
Marek: In battle, of course. That is how a warrior should die.

Q: What is your favorite motto?

Joelnar: With love and family, all things are possible.
Darkwind:
All are one.
Neerah: Life is a playground; let’s have fun.
Phessari: Life is a circular path leading to enlightenment.
Marek: Elai-gri nahk tie. Onward to battle!

 

Dante’s Equation

emerging2A universal wave that defines our reality…that is the key plot item to a book I just finished reading. The odd thing is, that although it’s a book of fiction, it brings together several concepts I have researched and studied for years.

If you believe some of the studies I have researched, we (as individuals) are a composite of frequencies, and one part of our individual frequencies contain the “universal frequency” of our reality. It’s what links us to this moment and this place. If we altered that link, that universal frequency, we might suddenly no longer exist in this reality. Instead, we would be in a different reality—perhaps one that is so close to our current one that we would be hard pressed to identify the differences, but it would be different.

If we alter that linking frequency in one way, we’re in an alternate reality; if we alter it another, we move from the physical plane to what? The astral plane? After all, the physical plane is only separated from the astral plane by a small shift in frequency. For instance, if all of physical reality (all the streams of physical reality that exist) exist within a frequency range of 0 – 100, then the astral plane is probably 100.1 – 200. And each reality within the astral plane is a separate frequency, just as each reality in the physical plane is a separate frequency. So, while astral matter is more pliable than physical matter, I would image that there are still some common realities that people go to in order to learn certain lessons, such as the reality of a brimstone and fire hell, and the reality of clouds and angels—how common are those? Perhaps there are realities that mimic the various realities on the physical plane, so that experiences can be reworked and revisited and the lessons learned.

But back to Earth and this reality. If the whole physical reality is in a frequency between 0 and 100, then where is our reality…50 – 52, or 48 – 50? Maybe it’s not so close to the middle, maybe it’s more skewed than that…maybe we’re closer to 35 – 37 or 60 – 62.

And what happens to the me in the reality I shift to (provided there is a me there), if I’m able to shift my linking frequency? Do we meet and cancel each other out? Does my moving into the next reality, push the me that’s there forward or backward, creating one big chain reaction of pushing ad infinitum? And if I push the me from that reality out and take her place, then when (and if) I shift back to my own reality, does the other me slip back to her world, too? My mind boggles (which is an interesting game, by the way—do we have a headache yet?)

Another concept I found in this novel that was interesting, was how the astral plane worked. Now the author didn’t call the realities where the different characters ended up the astral plane, but to me it was so obvious that no label was needed. When the protagonists were subjected to a pulse, it shifted their universal frequency link and each of them then found themselves in a world ideally suited to showing them their main life lesson.

Two found themselves in a world of wondrous technology, but what they found was that people didn’t matter, only the technology did. At first, this was great because they loved technology. However, the more they realized how little people meant, the colder and less ideal their “chosen” world seemed to them.

Another character who believed he knew what God wanted and never thought people showed enough respect (to him and to God) found himself in a world where the rules were so rigid and so strict that only blind obedience was acceptable. He soon found that this was not the type of faith that he wanted, nor the type of faith he wanted to foist onto others.

So, it went for each character, as they confronted the worst in themselves and came to realize how narrow and shallow they really were. Exactly the types of lessons you would expect to encounter in the astral planes.

Once they acknowledged the blinders that they had worn, they were able to return their individual frequencies to what they needed to be in order to return to their own reality.

Now, while the author took some liberties in the way she got them back to their own reality, and in how they actually get to the astral plane (she had them traveling to the astral plane as full physical beings), it was still a very thought-provoking and intriguing book. More than anything it makes me want to ask the author which of Nick Herbert’s publishings she has read, and what gave her the idea in the first place. I think it would be utterly fascinating to sit down and discuss some of these concepts with the author, to see where she got her ideas from, and what her feelings are about multiple realities.

So, if you love a book that will make you question and think, then I highly recommend that you read Dante’s Equation by Jane Jensen.