Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fractured Palace - Unedited Excerpt

As I have been going through the first round of edits on Fractured Palace, I've realized I haven't posted a whole lot about it. So many of you are probably like...okay? What is it about? It is a New Adult Romance. It is also a stand alone. The blurb (which still needs some tweaking) can be found under the "BOOKS" tab at the top. But basically, I'll explain it like this...

We have all had those people who drift in and out of our lives. Sometimes when you run into them, they act like they've known you forever while other times they act as if you are a stranger on the street. It doesn't change the history or erase those moments where they have had an impact on your life or vice versa. 

For Ashton and Reed those moments were life altering even if they both didn't realize it at the time. 

The story takes place in present day where they are college students living very different lives. But there are many glimpses into their past to show their history and the importance it holds on their future. 

I am far from final edits on this. So I apologize in advance for typos, grammatical errors, etc. But here is a look at Ashton at age 8. I would love to hear what you all think!

**Warning, if you are at all sensitive to violence or domestic abuse, you may not want to read further. I don't believe this scene is too graphic but everyone has different tolerance levels. No, the abuse is not directed at Ashton as a child but she is present. This book is intended for those 18 or older. 

"How could you do this to me, John," Ashton's mother accused from beyond her closed bedroom door. 

Ashton hurried over to flick off the light switch on her wall before she jumped into bed. She grabbed her thread bare and faded pink comforter to drape over her head and wrap around herself as she pulled her legs up to her chest. If they didn't see her...if they forgot she was there, maybe she wouldn't get caught in the middle as she had sometimes in the past.  

"Don't you dare turn your back on me! Answer me!"  

Now if she could only block out the yelling.  

She pressed her hands into the comforter over her ears. 

"I had to find out from the neighbor that Ashton had walked home from school today. She's eight years old!  You let an eight year old girl walk down a divided highway while you went to pick up your whore in my car!" 

Ashton dropped her hands, since it wasn't working. They were only screaming louder. She didn't really see the big deal about walking home other than it was cold and slushy out. Cars would sometimes splash icy water on her as they passed through puddles. But if she walked far enough away from the road it wasn't that bad. She had walked home down that busy road every day for the past two weeks. The only reason she hadn't mentioned it was because she didn't want to hear the fighting.  

"Fuck this! I don't need to put up with this bullshit!" John yelled right back. 

"I said, don't you dare turn away from me!" her mother screeched 

A moment later there was a loud thud which vibrated the wall behind Ashton's back. She jumped up from her bed with her comforter and scurried across the room to huddle down on the dirty brown carpet underneath the drafty window. The yelling continued but she focused her attention on the dust, the bent Q-tip, the broken red tip of a crayon and the Barbie shoe which had collected in the crevice between the carpet and the floorboard.  

Her gaze shifted over to a brown cardboard box which sat on the floor across the room. The limbs of her Barbies could be seen above the edge. A head with matted and tangled blonde hair...a bent arm with a ring pressed into her fingers...perfectly shiny brown hair...two straight legs with pants pulled up halfway...Ken, with his painted on hair, wearing nothing but shorts... 

They all had smiles on their faces.  

She no longer played with Barbies, she thought sadly as she rolled the shoe between her fingers. 

Ashton winced when she heard a deep grunt followed by a crack and another thud which vibrated her wall. One of her stuffed animals which sat on the shelf above her bed, fell to her mattress.  

"Jesus Christ, Cora! Look at you! But I'm the problem?" 

"I'm calling the police!" her mother cried. 

"Go ahead!" John roared. "I'll claim self-defense. I'm the one bleeding here!" 

There was a brief pause in the yelling. Then some mumbled words before Ashton heard her mother's sobs. "No! Please! Please don't go!" 

Ashton turned away when she heard laughter coming from outside. As she rose to her knees, she wiped away the condensation on her window just in time to see a couple figures carrying sleds dart through the darkness and into the thin patch of woods which ran behind all the houses on the street.  

The laughter faded the further away they ran. She wanted to follow.  
More yelling drew her attention to her bedroom door. Her coat and boots were out in the living room.  

She was scared to leave and she was scared to stay.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Here's the Dealio...

Yes, I have been my reclusive self lately. That's because I have been deeply immersed in writing. Since I write best at night when I have no distractions, this also means I have taken to a night shift type of sleep schedule. So yeah, my days and nights are a bit mixed up at the moment.

My plan had been to focus on trying to knock out the first drafts of the works in progress I had started. And it had been working until I hit a point where I started second guessing myself while working on Fractured Palace. When that happened, my motivation dwindled. So I decided not to force it and took a break.

Anyway, here's an update on what I have accomplished in the past few month or so...

The first draft of the short story I wrote for Dead Bound Publishing's Hope In The Darkness anthology is finished. I have since sent it off to be read by a couple people to get their feedback. I have yet to name this short story. What keeps coming to mind is Axel Falls. But we shall see. It is the story of Isaac, who sinks into a deep depression after the loss of a loved one shortly after graduation from high school and how another guides him out of the darkness. I know I've mentioned this before but I'll say it again. I am not a crier. But just writing up an outline for this story (which I never do), I teared up multiple times. It's a bittersweet story about love, loss and finding a way to move on.

While I was writing The Ilia Stone, I started writing a New Adult Romance, (Fractured Palace). At first it started as something I could do to take a break from all the historical, paranormal and twisted aspects of The Ilia Stone. I assumed if I wrote something without all that, surely it would go more smoothly or would be less of a brain drain to try to write.

Well, we all know what they say about assumptions. I somehow managed to make this one a complicated one to write as well.

After The Ilia Stone was published I decided I would jump right in and try to write The Ilia Redemption and Fractured Palace at the same time. So that is what I started doing. Since I already had a pretty decent jump start in writing The Ilia Redemption and since I believed Fractured Palace would in some ways be easier to write, I thought I could get both first drafts finished within a couple months. Great plan, right?


I reached a point with The Ilia Redemption like the one I reached last week with Fractured Palace. Yes, in a sense it was my self doubt about the direction I was going in rearing it's ugly head. The reviews on The Ilia Stone have been great. Amazing actually. Which creates a bit of pressure to make sure the next book is as good or better than the last. That pressure and self doubt then clouded the story as a whole which I envisioned over two years ago. So yes, even though I don't outline, I have known since I first started writing this story where it was going. In fact the end of the third book has been written since before I had half of the first draft of The Ilia Stone written. But when that story started to get muddied, I decided I needed to take a break.

When I hit pause on The Ilia Redemption, I shifted focus and decided get Fractured Palace down. Get the first draft done and let The Ilia Redemption come back to me when it was ready. Which it did...finally. Unfortunately or fortunately -- however you want to look at it -- Nia and Gabriel began trading barbs which were impossible to ignore and fueled my already sleepless nights. But the timing was bad. I was so, so close to finishing the first draft of Fractured Palace that I wanted to ignore Gabriel and Nia so I could at least finish the first draft of something. However, I have learned that when parts of a story come to me while driving or as I'm going about to go to sleep, I have to write them down as soon as possible or I risk losing them forever. When my mind began to tune back into The Ilia Redemption I started to do just that. While I haven't written much on either story this past week I have jotted down several pages of notes on The Ilia Redemption. 

So where does that leave me right now?

As much as the past has shown me that making plans rarely pans out with my writing, I am going to continue to make goals to keep me pushing forward. I could finish the first draft of Fractured Palace this week. Yes, I am that close. I also could then push to try to finish the first draft of The Ilia Redemption by mid-March. I do believe it's possible. However, at the end of the day, I will not publish these stories until they are as close as possible to how I envisioned them to be. So while this may create for a lot of waiting right now, I'm very hopeful there won't be as large of a gap between the release of these two books.

Tonight, I plan on working on The Ilia Redemption so I can get at least some of what has been weighing on my brain out. Then hopefully that will free up my focus so I can finish the first draft of Fractured Palace. This is my goal for the week. Whether it happens or not, we'll see.

In other news...

If you missed the announcement, I will be attending the Naughty In The South Author Event, June 6, 2015! This event will be held in Birmingham, Alabama. I will be updating my blog soon with an "Events" page which will be found along the top of my blog next to "Books".  All information regarding events and signings (location, ticket information etc.) will be found there.

I may be forgetting something but for now, I think that covers most of what I've been busy with. Thanks for being patient with me. If there is anything you would like me to post to tide you over until these books release (word counts to show my progress, quotes etc.) just let me know!

Until then...

Happy Reading!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Blogger Perspective: 16 Questions Authors are Afraid to Ask and the Answers They May Need to Know

I had been planning on doing a blog post this weekend to give my readers and update on what I've been working on. That plan got waylaid a bit when I came across a post by a book blogger I follow pretty regularly. It was a random post in which she said she wished there were more blogger interviews.

I agreed.

Now I should start off by saying, I have pestered this blogger on a number of occasions with questions about blogging, reviews and the writing community as a whole. She always starts off her response with "Do you want honesty?"

My answer is always, yes.

Crystal will then go on to give her honest opinions. They are not filtered, watered down or sugar coated to spare anyone's feelings. Which I greatly appreciate. I'm an author. I have my own viewpoint on things. When I ask Crystal a question, it is because I want to see things from her point of view...as a blogger sees things from where they are sitting. 

This is why I have such huge respect for Crystal Marie, her blog Crystal's Many Reviewers and those who review for her blog. 

They give their fair, honest reviews -- regardless of star rating-- and stand behind it. I love book bloggers no matter how big or how small but for the above reasons, this one stands out to me.

Having said all that, when Crystal posted that there should be more blogger interviews, I jumped at the chance. I always have questions running through my mind to ask them. 

So here it is, my question and answer session with Crystal Marie of Crystal's Many Reviewers. I asked for her honest views on the below 16 questions and I respect her for and appreciate that she took the time to give them. 

How about we start with the basics. Who is Crystal Marie and what made you decide to start a book blog? 

Crystal Marie is just a person, plain and simple.  There really isn’t anything about me that makes me stand out from the crowd, unless the completely unnatural obsession with Spongebob makes me strange.  Which it probably does.  But I’m totally cool with that.  As for me starting my book blog, I totally blame my friend Jaq.  We had met online in a readers group after the two of us read a book series, and she started telling me how I need to write reviews and post them up to help the authors.  So I caved to peer pressure and started the blog. 

What do you believe is the purpose of book reviews?

I personally feel like the purpose of book reviews has changed so much in the past 2 years.  When I first started, the purpose was to help give readers an idea as to if they would enjoy the books they were looking into.  And now?  To me, it seems to have turned into a popularity contest with some of the authors.  And it’s gotten worse as time goes on.  

Why do you believe there is so much controversy over book reviews? 

Because people don’t know how to grow a thick skin.  Yes, you wrote a book and released it, but you need to realize that not everybody is going to love your book.  Shoot, if you look at Shakespeare or Jane Austen, even they have received 1 star reviews.  Nowadays the authors seem to feel like they deserve a 5 star review even if their book isn’t that great, in your opinion. 

Each book blog has different policies on posting negative reviews, which is their right. Why does your blog choose to post negative reviews? 

I don’t like the wording of “negative reviews” because no review is negative that comes from my blog.  Yes, we do post below 3 stars and that is because of my Daddy.  When I first started out, both my parents were crazy supportive of me and the blog, and Daddy explained to me that I would never be a “legitimate” review blog if I only shared 4 and 5 star reviews.   

Why we post them? Because why shouldn’t we?  As bad as that sounds, an author asked us for our PERSONAL HONEST OPINION and if we didn’t like the book, we should be able to say so.  Do we trash the books? No, but we say this is what we didn’t like.  For example, one of my reviewers 2 starred a book she read a few months ago.  She explains in the review that the reason why she rated it that way was because she felt the author didn’t do her research for the location that she set the book in, and for hurricanes.  Can my reviewer say she didn’t do the research? Yes, because she actually lived in that location and has been through hurricanes.  So there were inconsistencies and that ruined the story for her. 

Have you received back lash for posting negative reviews? If so, how do you handle it? 

Oh yes we have.  We have been told by other blogs that we are doing a disservice and that we aren’t doing our job by posting negative reviews.  We’ve had authors who have publically bashed us on their facebook pages, on their blogs, or just to their friends.  The way I handle it?  I just laugh.  Because seriously, it’s so minor of a thing to get them riled up, but they just keep going. 

There are many new authors out there who don't know where to start to contact blogs for book review requests, cover reveals etc. What advice do you have for them? 

The best way to contact a blog is to check out their facebook pages and message them there.  BUT also check their website as well.  For instance, I don’t like review requests coming through the facebook page, so I end up asking them to fill out the form.  For the most part though, it’s really easy to get in contact with a blogger. 

Is there a certain time-frame prior to a book release in which an author should contact blogs if they are interested in having them review their book? 

That is different for each blog.  For us?  As of Jan 25th, we are completely booked up on the blog until April 24th 

What are the most common reasons a book blog might pass on doing a book review of a particular book? 

It just depends.  Crystal’s Many Reviewers only has 1 real “rule” when it comes to books that we won’t review, and that is we won’t read any books that have anything to do with child molesting.  Now, each of my reviewers has their own rules as to what they will and will not read. 

But also, it might have something to do with the author themselves.  If the author has a history of freaking out and insulting authors, then no we won’t review for them.  If the author treats bloggers like crap, then no we won’t review for them.

There are some who believe blogs show preference to authors who have models on their covers or who have a larger fan base. Do you think there is truth to that? 
I have heard there are some blogs who will only promote certain authors because they feel like the author will give them something in return.  It’s almost like high school to where the bloggers will only be friends with authors who will help them get somewhere in the blogging world. 

Is there anything an author can do to increase the odds of blogs taking a chance on their book? 

Being nice to us and treat us like you’d want to be treated.  As bad as that sounds, it’s the truth.  There are plenty of authors out there who will “use” the “little” blogs to get a step up, but then once they hit a best sellers list?  They treat that blog like crap.  That has actually happened to us, and a few of our blogger friends, more than once unfortunately.   

I know there are some blogs who prefer to be contacted directly by the author rather than their PA, publisher or a blog tour company. There are also blogs who seem to work exclusively through blog tour companies. What are your thoughts on that and do you have a preference? 

I don’t have a preference.   

What are your thoughts on Blog Tour Companies? Do they make your life easier? Would you recommend authors use them? What are the pros and cons that you see? 

There is only one thing about blog tours that I don’t personally like, and that is how early they start blog tours.  For instance, we just got a blog tour invite today, (Jan 25th) and the tour start Feb 7th.  And no matter how much one of the reviewers would want to read that book, we just don’t have the space on the blog.  Do I recommend them?  There are a few (as in like 3) companies that if an author were to ask me who to use I would recommend from a bloggers standpoint.  But, I’ve also told authors that sometimes, it’s better to just ask blogs themselves if they would like to review. 

Are there any red flags authors should look for or questions they should be asking when they are considering submitting their book to a blog for review? 

Oh gosh yes there are red flags.  The number one thing that I look for when it comes to finding blogs for author friends of mine is how often they post actual reviews.  A review blog should at least post 1-2 times a week.  If they haven’t posted for months, that’s a red flag.
And the old standby, (this was the rule when I was first starting out) the blog had to be at least 6 months old.   

I know it is extremely time consuming to read each book, write up a review and post it on the blog, social media, Goodreads etc. Plus all the time and money that is put into giveaways, maintaining your blog and other promo you all do.  I also know there are those who do not show appreciation for all this hard work. Are there days where you question why you do it? Has it had an effect on your enjoyment of reading? 

Yes.  God yes I do wonder.  Even my Mama wonders sometimes, she keeps asking me why I don’t shut down the blog because it seems to be more stress than it’s worth.  But for some reason, I can’t shut it down.  Has it effected my enjoyment of reading?  It did for a while to be honest.  It felt like I was reading the exact same story over and over and over again, the only thing changing was the characters names. 
I for one am very appreciative of all that blogs do. Not only as an author but as a reader too. What are some ways authors and readers can give back to show their appreciation? 

I have some great followers on the blog, I really do.  I’ve had followers who have sent stamps to help with the giveaways, or who have donated eBook copies to giveaways.  They are amazing, and honestly we wouldn’t be where we are without them.  When it comes to authors, a simple thank you is great.  A comment on the review is great.  I can’t tell you how excited one of the reviewers get when they find out that the author commented on their review, even if it is just a thank you. 

Authors publish their books in the hopes they will be read. Bloggers post reviews to give readers their opinions on those books so readers have a little more to go on when making their reading selections. At the end of the day, it is about the readers. With that in mind, do you think there is anything authors and bloggers should be doing differently? 

GET RID OF THE DAMN DRAMA!!! (Am I allowed to swear?)  I mean seriously, it has turned into freaking high school again.  Authors – it isn’t about you, plain and simple.  Someone didn’t like your book and they explain in their 3 star review this was the problem they had with it? LEARN FROM IT!  Especially if it’s multiple people who say the same thing.  And seriously?  The stupid “Go mark this authors 5 star reviews down on their book because it’s doing better than mine is” crap?  Grow up.
Bloggers – get off your high horses.  Bloggers are no better than anyone else out there.  You’re, in a way, a role model for the book world. Readers come to YOU to get recommendations for books.  I can’t tell you how many blogs I have unfollowed because they were trash talking another author.  It’s just insane
 and childish. 

Once again, I'd like to thank Crystal for taking the time to answer my questions.  We all have differing opinions for just about everything. But I think if we all were to take a moment to look at things from a different perspective, we may see things in a different light and learn to respect each others opinions. Maybe then we might be able to do away with a lot of the negativity out there. 

Mad love to all of those at Crystal's Many Reviewers and all book blogs  who keep it honest and respectful. And to the authors out there who show your appreciation for all the hard work book bloggers do!

If you would like to follow Crystal's Many Reviewers,  the links are listed below.