Night Sky Blog Tour, Guest Post with Author Jolene Perry

I’m from Alaska, and my mom’s from Southeast Alaska, where Sky’s character is from. It almost felt like cheating writing a culture that I already know fairly well. I’ve lived in Alaska most of my life and have been able to spend a bit of time in several native villages scattered across the state.
I didn’t remember all the symbolism for the animals on the totems, so I had to look that up, and I double-checked maps to make sure I was “creating” a village, instead of using one that was already there.
The directions Sky gives Jameson to where she grew up are accurate, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen – even though it’s been a while since I’ve traveled in that part of the state.

My book “sell story” is pretty simple for this one.

My agent turned it into a publisher that I really wanted to work with on it, and they LOVED it, the editors fought for it, but the company was worried it wouldn’t have enough commercial appeal. My writing in this story did make them want to see more from me, so it still felt like a win.

We turned it into one other larger pub house, and they said the same thing – the writing is great, but we’re worried there’s not enough commercial appeal if the order of events remains as-is.

I told Lauren that I wasn’t willing to change my story simply to give it the commercial hook it could have had – I loved the story too much to alter the order of events.

Lauren said if I want it out, that she’d find someone who loves it as-is, and she did. Tribute Books has been just awesome and supportive, and understood the order of events, and we didn’t change anything in the story. Some of my projects are just closer to my heart than others – this is one I knew I couldn’t change, and it feels awesome to find someone who saw my vision for this book.

I think the lesson is that if the writing is good enough, you will eventually find someone who loves the story (almost) as much as you (because no one will ever love the books I write the way I do).

Thanks so much for having me!!

~ Jolene

Night Sky Summary
After losing Sarah, the friend he’s loved, to some other guy, Jameson meets Sky. Her Native American roots, fluid movements, and need for brutal honesty become addictive fast. This is good. Jameson needs distraction – his dad leaves for another woman, his mom’s walking around like a zombie, and Sarah’s new boyfriend can’t keep his hands off of her.

As he spends time with Sky and learns about her village, her totems, and her friends with drums – she’s way more than distraction. Jameson’s falling for her fast.

But Sky’s need for honesty somehow doesn’t extend to her life story – and Jameson just may need more than his new girl to keep him distracted from the disaster of his senior year.

Jolene Perry’s Bio:
Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.

After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.

She is also the author of The Next Door Boys and the upcoming Knee Deep.

Visit Jolene on Twitter, or her blog. If the synopsis grabs you the book is available for purchase from Tribute Books at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

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Guest Post: Honey, Tom Cruise Was Such a Jerk in That Movie! by Elisabeth Staab

In the two years since I started to write King of Darkness, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about “Why vampires?” Hell, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me why I liked to write vampire romance, I’d be able to pay off my credit card debt and generously tip the chauffer that drives my middle child to and from preschool. And it’s no wonder. Look at the massive popularity of the Twilight series! Paranormal has practically become the new normal.

For a species that was once very niche in fandom, it’s left some folks scratching their heads.
My own husband asks me more than anyone. “Honey, I’ve seen that Tom Cruise movie. He’s all dressed up and stuff, but he’s still a monster. How can you make a vampire romantic?” And yet, Anne Rice seemed to open a gateway, there. Vampires in romance have become practically a dietary staple. I started to write my own series because I was one of those readers who needed their daily paranormal fix almost as desperately as they needed their morning cup of coffee (in either case, if I missed out I started biting hands)—and I started running out of things to read. I also started running out of money to buy e-books with.

So how have we evolved, as a culture, from humans who liked their vampires undead in horror movies to one who likes them hard-bodied, hot-blooded and naked? Is it the fangs? The Alpha male-ness? The immortality? The muscles? Okay, I think it’s safe to say we all like the muscles But really, the reasons are probably as many and varied as the people who read paranormal romance these days.

Remember Beauty and the Beast? Classic example of a monster who’s really a good guy. Who wants to be more. Who’s romantic! It isn’t a far stretch to apply that to vampires and other things that go bump in the night. Except when we’re all grown up, it’s nice to add some fangs, right? Those things are hot. And the blood drinking makes it a little forbidden and forbidden is smexy.

The great thing about vampires, is there’s something for everyone these days. Whether you like them big or small, dead or undead, Alpha or omega. Do you like your vampires to be good? Evil? A little of both? Do they drink blood? Eat food? Live in the past, present, or future (or all of the above)? Have superpowers? Pass as human? Do they drink blood from humans, or each other? Whatever your poison, we’ve got you covered.

Me, I dig the idea of vampires being a separate species that lives alongside humans. Right under everyone else’s noses. Partly because when my characters have sex I like for it to be lively. Mostly, because I enjoy the urban fantasy element that it adds. The idea that supernatural species are running around the suburbs outside of Washington DC, interacting with folks at the gas station and blending in undetected, gives me a thrill. I like giving them the ability to mate and reproduce, and have little fanged babies (aww!). And yes, I like the fangs and the muscles.

So. Your turn: What is it that you love about vampires? If not vampires, what’s your favorite paranormal species, and why?

About King of Darkness:
ETERNAL COMMITMENT IS NOT ON HER AGENDA…
Scorned by the vampire community for her lack of power, Isabel Anthony lives a carefree existence masquerading as human–although, drifting among the debauched human nightlife, she prefers the patrons’ blood to other indulgences. But when she meets the king of vampires this party girl’s life turns dark and dangerous.

BUT TIME’S RUNNING OUT FOR THE KING OF VAMPIRES…
Dead-set on finding the prophesied mate who will unlock his fiery powers, Thad Morgan must find his queen before their race is destroyed. Their enemies are gaining ground, and Thad needs his powers to unite his subjects. But when his search leads him to the defiant Isabel, he wonders if fate has gotten it seriously wrong…
King of Darkness is available NOW in ebook and in paperback on 2/7 : Amazon : Barnes and Noble : IndieBound

Elisabeth Staab lives in Northern Virginia with her hero and soul mate. She has been a telemarketer, a web page editor, a software developer, a reader for the blind, a technical trainer, a coffee shop barista, a tutor, a homemaker, a government project manager, a graphic designer, and a professional ebayer. Finally, she’s landed on being a writer – which is what her high school guidance counselor originally suggested anyway.

Elisabeth believes that all kinds of safe, sane, and consensual love should be celebrated–but she loves the fantasy-filled realm of paranormal romance the best. Find out more at ElisabethStaab.com.

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Guest post, giveaway and scavenger with Catherine Ryan Hyde!

LGB. T.

Sometimes a good, thoughtfully done review can raise an issue that gets an author thinking. Damn it. Being a writer sometimes reminds me of the old joke about a painter on a scaffold: the trouble is, you just can’t step back and get any perspective on your work.

Here’s an excerpt from what was, overall, a very positive review of Jumpstart the World by Roof Beam Reader.

The only minor complaint I have is the idea that “transphobia” does not exist in the GLBT community. When Frank is hospitalized, Elle stays with him because of his fear of being abused or mistreated there (due to the possibility of nurses/doctors not reacting well to his gender identity versus biology). When a male nurse comes to check on Frank, he identifies himself to Elle as a gay man and thus, one of the “community” – so therefore will have Frank’s back. Unfortunately, the issue is not so cut-and-dry and transphobia does exist, even within the GLBT community. Again, it is a minor complaint, as there are genuinely decent gay/straight people out there who would come to the aid of someone in trouble, as that nurse did, and I definitely do not think the author would actually argue that this issue exists in such a binary; but, I do wish the issue had not been championed on one side in the manner that it was.

When I first read it, I wanted to argue. Slightly. But the little voice in my gut said, “He’s right. I presented it as though that would be the natural way of things.” Looking back, I see a fairly simple (and pretty naïve) reason. In my head, that’s the way of things. I didn’t realize (though it was my job to know, so that’s not an excuse) when I first wrote this novel, the full extent of the chasm between the LGB and the T in the LGBT community.

And yet I must have known at some time, in some way, shape or form. The reason I live my life well outside “my” community is because of issues such as this. Years ago, when I was quite young, I tried to be part of the “Women’s Community” in LA. Problem was, I was somewhere between bisexual and gay. And that just did not fly there. So, let’s face it, if you can’t be who you really are, what’s the point of a community? That kind of abuse I can get anywhere.

I was even sitting in the audience at the horrible women’s concert in LA where a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual was forced off the stage because of some crap about male anatomy at a “woman’s event.” So at some point I knew how crazy it can get.

I must have buried it deeply. That’s all I can think.

Since writing the book, I’ve—unfortunately—learned more. Like how the LGB community has a bad habit of throwing its transgender brothers and sisters under the bus when it comes time to pass non-discrimination bills. If the bill might not pass with T inclusion, the LGB contingent says, “Wait. You’ll get your rights later.” But that’s not only unfair, it’s completely unworkable. Because no one is free until everyone is. When we decide that anyone falls below the standard of deserving respect and understanding, we’ve dug a hole into which any of us can fall at any time. And I don’t just mean LGBT people. If our society reserves a lack of freedom for anyone, our freedom is abridged. If it can happen to anyone, it can happen to us.

It’s hard to write a world like that into a book.

The one part of this book I hated writing the most was Elle’s reaction to Frank’s friends at the party. Particularly, putting the phase “like a man in a dress” in her voice. It reminded me of years ago, writing Walter’s Purple Heart, having him use the word “Jap” at the beginning of the book. Later he learned more about the “enemy.” When he had to shoot two. And he was lying in the hospital thinking, “Don’t Japanese mommas cry when their boys don’t come home?” In times of war, young soldiers are taught to dehumanize the enemy. So he would have used the word Jap at the beginning. I hate it, but I know he would have. So that’s why I had Elle go through all the usual preconceptions. Even though I inwardly wince. Even though I half fear that people will attribute that prejudice to the author. Because I feel it’s my job to show the world as it is, not as I wish it would be.

But that damn Adam from Roof Beam Reader, he caught me falling down on the job. Showing the world as I wish it would be. Not as it is.

With any luck, the book will stay in print for many years. And maybe in a generation or two, people will read that, and it’ll sound fine. Match up just fine with what they see around them. And they can shake their heads at the “man in a dress” reference and wonder how anyone could ever have been mired up in such clueless thinking.

Hope with me. Please.

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Catherine is having a scavenger hunt! (And I have a giveaway below) You can win a copy of EVERY YA book she has ever written. First you must collect the clues, from me today “and then starts to cry“, The Story Siren, and There’s a Book have already posted. Look for highlighted words, and tomorrow the FINAL post in the scavenger hunt is at Chick Loves Lit. There is also and opp to win one of 3 signed copies of Jumpstart the World at each location before the huge prize at Catherine’s blog! Basically you collect the words on all four partner blogs and make a sentence and turn them in to Catherine on Sunday.

Now for my giveaway! THREE SIGNED PAPERBACK COPIES OF JUMPSTART THE WORLD! This is the perfect op for you guys to get introduced to Catherine’s work. Just Rafflecopter below, and there is a giveaway on each of the partner blogs too.


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Guest Post: Amanda Havard – Why I Went With an Indie Publisher

I’m a bit of a weird kid. I’m the kind who looks at the way things are going and wonders how and why things could (should?) go differently. I’m the kind who is unafraid to make dreams so big they might very well be unattainable, and I’m even less fearless to share them with you. I’m the one who looks at something established and sees it for its merits but looks at something new, unheard of, and risky and gets way more excited at the possibilities.

This came to light in a conversation I had in San Jose with Pam just this month, when I sat down with someone from my publisher and talked to her about why we’re in this publishing game, why we’re excited to be the new kids, and why I went the way I did.

The word indie has a lot of connotations these days. You hear it and, if you’re like me, you might get a bit excited. You might wonder what an artist completely unconstrained by the rules of the music/publishing/film establishment could create. But it has a lot of negative connotations too. You hear indie and you think… what? Self-published? Unedited? Unaccomplished? Unmerited? Certainly not worth your time? If you’re a book blogger, how many books from an indie publisher have you read this year? And compared to those from the big six? When you go looking for cool new books to read in the coming year, do you just peruse the catalogues the majors put out? And do you wonder at all what you’re missing by only doing that?

Probably not. And I understand it. I heard at BEA that over three million books were published last year. Major houses put out enough to keep you reading day and night, so why look any further? Especially if you’ve had a negative experience with or opinion of an indie before. But sometimes, where indie can mean all those not-so-nice things, it can also mean independent in a more powerful way. An innovative way.

When I started the rounds of trying to get The Survivors published in 2009, I had a lot of weird ideas. I had a lot of, daresay, innovative ideas. I believed that books could be more immersive than they are currently. I believed that innovative technologies could allow us to do all kinds of crazy things with stories. I believed that stories could be told in so many fashions—none of which would replace the book experience, all of which would enhance it.

And some people—media people, tech people, business people, cool forward-thinking people—they’d hear these ideas, and they’d get excited. But publishing people? They’d look at me like I was crazy. Pat me on my head, send me on my way, and tell me that if I could just forget all these weird ideas I had, if I could let go of all this unnecessary extra creativity I wanted to harbor, then, hey, I could be a good author, and all would be well.

That put me in a rough place. My whole life has been a search for creativity. The more creative outlets I have, the better I feel. The more creative an endeavor can become, the more successful it is in my mind. So to give that up? To erase parts of my plan, parts of myself, to do it the conventional way? That just didn’t seem like the path for me.

So what are these weird ideas I had? There were a few… Every now and then these days, you hear about an author who makes a Twitter account for his or her characters or will answer questions as a character on Twitter. We’re starting to hear the buzz on those things, and people are starting to embrace it. Me? Well, I started my characters on Twitter in 2009 and tweet as them in sync with the story timeline. They’re not people who will answer your questions or talk to each other one night. They’re people. Who had lives before the pages of the books, who have lives outside the scenes that make it in the book, who say things outside of the dialogue in the book. Now they have Facebook pages too so you can know all you want to know about them—the music they’re listening to, the books and magazines they “Like” (Facebook style), just what their interests are in a very real way. My characters exist outside the pages of the book. I hear that’s weird, but it seems very normal to me. They exist in your head once you’ve read it. They’re meant to. Why not take that a little further?

There are more weird things, of course. Things that would have cost publishers time and money to produce, and that no other publisher, outside my gallant indie, Chafie Press, would take on. I write songs, and I live in Nashville, TN, a.k.a. Music City. Songs are stories. Short stories with powerful emotions and an atmospheric impact. A song about characters in the books? Even better. The book enhances your music experience or the music enhances your book experience, but either way, it’s a win-win. But the traditional people wouldn’t embrace this. It was too weird! Chafie Press? Well, they’re a part of Chafie Creative, a creative group that encompasses the publisher; a record label, FPR records, so we could record and produce this music at a top-40 radio level; and Point of Origin Music Publishing so I could own my own rights to the music we write and produce for these projects. Chafie has fully embraced my vision, and as a result, we have two existing singles out with music videos—“Pretty Girl” by Glee’s Chris Mann and “Breaking” by Canadian powerhouse Jess Moskaluke who just won a Canadian Country Music Award. Next up is “Who You Are” by Patrick Thomas who you might remember as a finalist on The Voice! and Jenny Gill, whose dad you’ve probably heard of. Making The Survivors a transmedia experience was what I wanted to do, and it’s so fantastic now that it has happened and is happening. But if I hadn’t gone indie, it never would have happened.

Our next step will likely be the weirdest of all, and it’s something Pam got a glimpse at over that cup of coffee. Next, The Survivors is coming out in a fully immersive, completely interactive book form. Is it a game? No. Is it a novel turned into something with pretty pictures that no longer feels like a novel, and so you’re not interested? No. Is it something that you’ve ever seen before? Something you’ve ever dreamed of? No. It’s a new experience. I think you’ll love it, and, man, I hope you embrace it. After all, stories just keep evolving. This is just the next step.

Pam suggested I write this post to tell you of my very deliberate choice to go independent, to let you know that it was by choice that I wanted to work with an innovative creative group to put out this book and the subsequent projects, to realize my dream of innovative storytelling. We wouldn’t be here talking about all this if I hadn’t gone indie. If I hadn’t betted on the odd horse out. If I hadn’t had a lot of faith to jump off this particularly precarious cliff. And you know, you’ve probably not heard of me. Or if you have, maybe you thought, That’s an indie. I’ll get to it if I get to it. Or yeah, but no one’s talking about that one, and so you ignore it. And, hey, that’s okay because now you know that this indie kid is all about innovation, and aren’t second chances great? I hope you’ll explore all that the world of The Survivors and Chafie Creative has and will shortly have to offer.

Because it’s only the beginning.

You can visit Amanda on Facebook and Twitter!

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I was obsessed with an asylum – Scavenger Hunt – Beth Kephart

If you’ve been following these blog posts, then you understand already that I don’t write my books in some preordained sequential fashion. I don’t outline a plot; I don’t consult the trends; I don’t go with the fashions. I write about what will not let me sleep, and over time, and through countless drafts, the separate aspects of my obsessions knit themselves into a story.

One of the things that was keeping me awake at night while I was working on this book was the stories I kept reading about urban explorers—those fascinating souls who explore abandoned buildings, often illegally, and create entire underworlds within them. For many years, a northeast Philadelphia asylum known to many as Byberry was a favorite haunting ground for these folks. This gigantic structure had been left to rot after being shut down in the 1990s, and the urban explorers (or “cavers” as they are sometimes known) had taken over—held rave parties there, ridden their motorcycles through connective tunnels, dug through the patient records and film reels and all the wild and disturbing “stuff” that had been so haphazardly left behind.

I was fascinated by this (and, truth be told, a little afraid). I kept studying web sites and archival footage, reading about Byberry both in its heyday and in its awful middle years and during its ignoble end. I would talk to people who had known people who had gone there. Talk to those who lived in the Byberry neighborhood (to which the so-called “Byberrians” would often escape). Read fragments from Byberry newsletters or social servant types. And wonder, What would it have been like to be committed against one’s will in an institution like Byberry?

An early version of this novel (the adult version) contained a social history of this place. To make You Are My Only work, I took most of that out. But I share with you here a fragment from some early writing that captures the Byberry that obsessed me:

They closed the asylum for good in 1990. They closed it because of what it had been, because of the names that had described it. Medieval pesthouse. Snake pit. Fire trap. Concentration camp. Sophie had heard them all. She had seen the photographs in the daily papers, had read the stories. About the boy in leather constraints—strapped, never not strapped, to a chair. About the old man frozen to death beneath the beech tree in winter. About the drowning of patients—successive, awful—in the river and the creek. About the drifters caught in the bald, blind spot of the too-wide boulevard into which they’d crossed, having wandered free of the place that was paid to protect them. There were instructions on asylum recreation, signs that read, Smoking Times: Two every two hours, one after every meal. There were reports: They lean through windows. There was proof, over and again, of the mildly unsettled being rendered irretrievably insane by virtue of maltreatment.
Cracks in the roofs, the glass, the tiles. Azalea bushes yanked out by their roots. Rolling hills gone to the wild tuft of weeds. Through the neighborhoods the dwindled patients had wandered. Into backyard barbecues they had walked. There was one, a romantic, who’d slipped the noose in spring and trundled through the streets, stripping tulips of their petals. She returned to the asylum with her cotton pockets full, singing the one song she remembered. There was just one song.
Everyone had stories. Everyone understood. The patients never disappeared. They vapored up, like ghosts. If you waited, passive, you could see them infiltrating. If you did nothing but fear you’d be subsumed. There was no one to call; there was nothing for it; there were no fences, no gates that could thwart, preclude, avert them. You were either the hunted or the hunter. Victim or assailant. Those who lived alone or with doubt, alone or with guilt, alone and self-recriminating were keenly vulnerable. They only had themselves with which to fight the figments.

Scavenger Hunt!

Beth is hosting a scavenger hunt in preparation for her latest release which I loved so much. I hope you join. You can leave your thoughts here and I am sure Beth will read them.

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