Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Birth of a book

*** Charity Donation Completed to the *** 
*** Humane Society of the United States ***
Thanks, everyone! :)

Nine months from today, my book Deliverance: Mortal Path 3 will be released. If it were a human baby, we'd be talking a few cells. Fortunately the book's further along than that! I can't tell how thrilled I am to have a title and a release date. The cover's still under wraps.

There's been a gap between books 2 and 3, one that a professional writer ordinarily doesn't have. I'd like to share with you the reason why. (Warning: grab your box of tissues or skip this post.)

One thing I never, ever believed in was writer's block. I felt that people who claimed to suffer from it were whiners who just couldn't work their way through difficult periods. I never suffered from it.

Until my sister fell ill.

She and I were very close. Yes, past tense. She was a few years older than I was and blazed a trail through childhood and being a teenager for me. She's the one who broke the news to me that there was no Santa Claus; that says a lot right there. She didn't mind taking little sis along once she got her driver's license and later on helped me sneak out of the house to meet my boyfriend. We'd lie on the floor under the Christmas tree and dream about what our lives would bring. As adults, we could practically read each other's minds. She was a fifth grade science teacher and later a teacher of the severely handicapped, saying she felt called to do it. She wanted to be a writer too, but could never seem to get started. She wanted me to write her grand idea and put her name on it. I didn't, because I thought that if I encouraged her enough, she'd write it herself. Now I wish I had helped her get her science fiction novel, The Ice Princesses, published. It came to her in a series of vivid dreams. Why was I such a stickler about it? Because I knew she could do it if she tried. I should have been more generous and less high-minded.

She had a respiratory illness (not lung cancer) that caused her to get a tracheotomy. She hated it. She couldn't talk, and I was a terrible lip reader. If we weren't on the same page so much, we would have lost communication. As it was, we couldn't talk on the phone. I got her a laptop and tried to engage her that way, but she just wasn't up to it. She bounced from hospital to nursing home (she needed more care than I could provide, for which I felt terribly guilty) to hospital and back. Six times. She coded a dozen or more times, not getting enough oxygen to her body. She was afraid to go to sleep at night, because that's when the codes happened. As hard as this was on her, it was hard on me too, though I tried not to show it.

My sister, who could coax a smile from the most reluctant child, was in pain and prayed for release. She wouldn't consider suicide because of her religion. She wanted to be moved to a hospice, but according to her doctor, her health was improved in some ways and he was still hopeful for a better, stable life for her. I was cheerful when I visited her. Sometimes she had good days.

Was I writing during these months? Not really. A paragraph or a couple of pages a day, and sometimes I had to go back and rewrite it because it was, as a writer friend of mine once described her first draft, pea-green dreck.

Faster than I could have ever thought, her ashes were in a golden cube. I'd never seen human ashes before. When scattered according to her wishes, they clung to leaves instead of sifting down to the ground as I'd thought they would. The result was a large gray circle of vegetation. We happened to be in a hot, dry period, and night after night I would think about that gray patch and hope for rain to wash her cremains to the ground. It finally happened, and suddenly I was a changed person. I was able to smile, I wrote fiercely and well, and I focused on the good memories. And all it took was a thunderstorm.

It seems a little odd to have a book giveaway after a story like that, so here's the deal. If I get thirty or more comments (you can talk about your own experiences if you wish--I'm a good listener) by July 2nd, I'll donate $50 to my sister's favorite charity, the Humane Society of the United States. Sixty comments or more, and I'll donate $100. Encourage me! It's a good cause.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

A New Member (Monster) in the Family

Congratulations to jfort (Tonya) for winning the signed copy of Eat Prey Love! Thank you all for the great comments! I loved reading them all. See you again next month!

I've been working my way down a long list of things to do in preparation for the national RWA conference next week in New York City (selecting just the right clothes and shoes, preparing presentations, packing up bookmarks and postcards, etc.). Another item on the list-- make myself presentable (a daunting task, to say the least!) Is it too late to lose twenty pounds by Monday? Also on the list: promote the booksigning!! So here goes-- if you're in the NYC area, please come to the Marriot Marquis Times Square on Tuesday, June 28th. Over 400 authors will be signing their books from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. You can find out more information here--http://www.rwa.org/cs/literacy_autographing

Oh, and there's the other little item on the list. Book #12 in the Love at Stake series is due next month. Yikes!! So, I'm furiously working away. Or trying to. Because while I'm writing, a little creature occasionally sinks its teeth into me. No, it's not a vampire. It's the new member of our family-- my daughter's kitten. When she adopted him, we called a family meeting to discuss the all important issue: what will we name him? My daughter wanted a German name, so we compiled a list and then voted for our favorite. This was the list: Klaus, Manfred, Siegfried, Sigmund, Hansel, Barnaby, Ludwig, Nicolai, Fritz, and Dietrich. Which name did we choose? Ludwig! We decided to use the nickname Viggy, which I really liked because it reminded me of Viggo Mortensen (sigh). So let me introduce the new member of our family-- Ludwig von Kittyhoven.

We should have named him Frankenstein. The little monster comes equipped with a ready arsenal: sharp teeth, little claws, and a never-ending supply of energy. Even now, as I write, I can hear my husband fussing at him. "No biting! Be a good boy!" Good luck with that. We spray him with water, but the ninja warrior simply runs away to plan the next attack. Nothing slows him down. He's a top secret stealth weapon. If you dare to walk through the house, you will be attacked, and you'll never see it coming. If you go into the kitchen, he'll jump you, just to remind you that it's been thirty minutes since he last ate and he's in danger of starving to death.

My husband is fussing at him again. "Stop scratching the chair!" My daughter's response, "Aw, he's so cute!" And I squeal when he jumps on my lap and dances across my laptop, doing strange things to my manuscript. When I shove him off, he retaliates by attacking my feet. So now I write with a spray bottle handy, and my feet encased in boot-shaped house shoes.

In honor of our feline warrior, I'm giving away a signed copy of Eat Prey Love, which features Carlos, the Brazilian were-panther. Just leave a comment about a pet of yours or whatever strikes your fancy. I'll post the winner in a few days. And I'll hope to see some of you Tuesday at the booksigning!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Feast your eyes on this!

By Merrie Destefano

The countdown has started. My second novel, Feast: Harvest of Dreams, releases next Tuesday, June 28. For me, that means lots of sleepless nights and scatter-brained moments. Despite my copious to-do lists and spreadsheets (yes, I’m a nerd when it comes to organizing things), I’m always looking for extra hours in the day and wondering what I forgot to do.

So, before I forget, here are some cool things:

1. You can read sample chapters of Feast on the awesome HarperCollins site HERE.

2. I now have “secret” website, just for my readers. You can check out a deleted scene from Feast HERE.

3. I have a blog tour set up for Feast and you can read the details HERE. Notice, many of the sites will be featuring contests. (Yay!)

4. You can read about my secret exploits in an interview with My Bookish Ways HERE.

5. Two early reviews of Feast are already up! One is at Bitten By Books and the other is The Aussie Bookworm.

6. You can pre-order Feast here: Amazon l Barnes and Noble l Borders l Mysterious Galaxy l Laguna Beach Books l Vroman's Bookstore l Indie Bound Books l Or at your favorite local bookstore.

And ….

I’m doing a giveaway, right here, right now!! One lucky person will win the following: Signed copy of Feast, signed copy of Afterlife, 4 bookmarks, 2 buttons, and a fab Afterlife tote bag--all perfect to jump start your summer reading by the pool!

What must you do to win this very cool prize, you ask?

Tell me something fun you plan to do this summer in the comment section below. Be sure to include your e-mail address, so I can contact you if you win.

Earn extra points by also doing the following (and be sure to add up all your points in your comment section.)

5 points: Mention and link to this post on Twitter
5 points: Mention and link to this post on Facebook
5 points: Mention and link to this post on your blog
10 points: Follow my blog
10 points: Subscribe to my newsletter, (lower left corner of my website)

Contest will run through midnight, July 8. Winner announced shortly thereafter.

AND, one more thing...

I just wanted to tell you that I have a prequel novella to Feast coming soon! Titled Cursed, it tells the story of how the Darklings first came to Ticonderoga Falls and the hunger that drove them to break all the rules. This novella will be available exclusively as an e-book and I will have more details in a week or two. Meanwhile, you can check my blog for updates. But just in case you're curious, you can get a sneak peak of the cover below. Isn't she gorgeous?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spreading the love at Supernova

This weekend, fellow Supernatural Undergrounder Tracey O'Hara and I joined Aussie UF writer Erica Hayes to promote Australian UF/PR at Supernova.

What is Supernova? It's kinda the Australian equivalent of Comicon. For two days, there's a wealth of displays of all things geeky (focussed mostly on comics, manga/anime and tv/movie) and panels about the things we love. There's a range of stars that come to be met and to promote shows (this time it included Tom Felton aka Draco Malfoy, James Marsters, Sean Maher from Firefly and the cast of I Dream of Jeannie). It moves around Australia during the year - this one was in Sydney.

Tracey, Erica and I had a table in the artist's alley, to try and let folks know that as wonderful as peeps such as Charlaine Harris and Laurell K Hamilton are, there's some rocking Aussie writers as well (and yes - for this purpose, we definitely adopt folks from New Zealand and so counted Nalini Singh as one).

We had lots of chats, sold a few copies of our books and all in all, had a
fantastic weekend. The best part of the whole thing, however, was the cosplay.

At the science fiction conventions that I've come to love here in Australia, we don't do a lot of cosplay. I was devastated when I first realised this - I was all ready for a Simpsons style of convention.

Well, my friends, I OVERDOSED on costumes at Supernova. The effort folks put into what they're doing was just sensation. I was really impressed by how welcome and friendly people were to stop and have photos taken. These were ordinary folk who kept up the smiles and willingly did some ridiculous things to make a photo work and did it all weekend.

None of us three authors dressed up, but we're thinking of going back next year and we'll probably do it again. I'm thinking of dressing as one of my gadda :) Anyhoo, here's some pics.

A guy pretending to be trapped in a cage by a gorilla - our favourite.

Tracey with Wonder Woman

Some very nasty aliens :)

Everyone's favourite little droid.

And finally - I'd love to read in the comments your story about how these three could have met.
Captain Jack Sparrow, Wonder Woman and Indiana Jones.

In other news - my third book is released in less than two weeks! Eek. To celebrate, I'm going to give the ENTIRE TRILOGY to a subscriber of my newsletter. If you want a chance to win, sign up here: http://nicolermurphy.com/

Sunday, June 19, 2011

i heart fan art!

i'm alive!
you say, of course you are cindy,
why wouldn't you be? well, i did
in fact indeed verily survive the release
of my second novel, Fury of the Phoenix,
AND a super duper mega grandiose book
tour with my gay twin, malinda lo, and our
Diversity in YA fiction signings! more on that
on my next post here at the underground!

today, i wanted to share some fan art with you.
there are many many wonderful things about
being an author, but one of the raddest ones
(i'm working on bringing the RAD back, why
does awesome get to have all the fun?) is fan art.
not only are they wonderful to receive, but the
best part probably is knowing that what you've
made up in your head and written has inspired a
reader artistically. i don't get much fan art but i
treasure each and every one of them!!

**click for full image! 8)

*here is li rong by philomela!

*and a portrait of my heroine ai ling, by annie in calgary.

*a really cool interpretation of ai ling twined with
a chinese dragon by haricha in the uk.

*another portrait of ai ling. i love the loose lines
but how it captures her so well in the expression
and the eyes, by marie.

*and finally, a personal favorite because not only
is it stunning, it shows my hero chen yong with
my heroine, ai ling. =) by the multi-talented
natalie. i was VERY lucky in that natalie parted with
the original and this is now a framed piece in my bedroom!

now you can see why i treasure each and every one
of these unique pieces created by my readers. i hope
you enjoyed them as much as i do.

till next time, super undies!! =D

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bibliophile v. Voracious Reader?

Recently, I was at a party and got to talking to a group of people about the fact that I'm a novelist. The talk turned to the topic of ebooks, and one of the ladies in the group said, "I'm such a bibliophile. I can't stand the thought of ebooks!"

And that statement got me to thinking. I'm a bibliophile...I loooove my books. I love the feel of them, I love the design that goes into making them unique from one another. I'm such a geek that I wax rhapsodic over font choice and interior design, along with typesetting. Yes, books are a thing of beauty.

But I'm also a voracious reader (or, at least, I was until I began writing full-time. Now, I'm not as much of a voracious reader as I used to be). And being a voracious reader--at least in theory--I love my Kindle.

Those of you who have ereaders know all of the reasons I love my Kindle--the convenience, the transportability, the financial benefits and the instant gratification of downloading the next book in the series as soon as I've finished the previous one. Yep. Love my Kindle.

So does the fact that I love my Kindle make me less of a true bibliophile? Can we voracious readers, who go through book after book after book, co-exist with those who love books so much they won't touch an ereader?

Are we different animals, we voracious readers versus the true bibliophiles?

I wonder, too, if bibliophiles might differ from voracious readers in another way too... and that is, in the number of actual books they read. Do they buy fewer books, read less, but concentrate on the beauty, feel and smell of the book in hand? I confess... I've bought many many a book because of its beauty and design... and a good number of them are still sitting, unread, on my shelves.

However, my voracious reading side doesn't care what's on the cover or how the words are typeset (which is good, because that art is pretty much lost in ebook formats).... All my voracious reading side cares about is a good story.

So... what do you think? Are bibliophiles different animals from voracious readers? Are those of us who are bibliophiles selling out when we buy/use an ereader? Or can we co-exist peacefully?

Is a bibliophile different from a voracious reader?

Comment below and YES, there is a giveaway! (It's Friday...there must be a giveaway!) Comment below about this topic, your thoughts, and I'll pick TWO winners from US commenters (only) for copies of one of my books.

And by the way...Night Betrayed is still offered at $2.99 for ebooks right now! So if you haven't had a chance to try this series, now's your chance. Kindle. BN.

(Don't you think the guy looks a bit like Nathan Fillion?)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Love Means

The Spell of Rosette Giveaway (see below)

Thank you everyone for the wonderful response! A lovely third party has just drawn 2 names out of the hat PLUS 2 bonus names. Congratulations to the winners! Please email me with your details so I can get your copies to you!

(1) Billabong1502

(2) Fleur

(3) Cylver

(4) Jess

Thank you!!!!

I find it fascinating that the English Language has only one word for love. We love our cars and cats and pancakes. We love our new job, the latest film and the computer that never lets us down. We love our gardens, sports, family and our lovers, but the feeling for these ‘loved ones’ can be quite different. Still, we say the same thing: I love . . . Not so in other cultures. The ancient Greeks, for example, had four different words for love with different meanings and different ‘locations.’

Love as Epithemia translates into words like horny or randy. It’s a physical, sensual, sexy love that’s hard to resist. Animal attraction. Chemistry. You know the kind? It’s tactile and felt in the body. It wants to get close, to touch and explore. It wants to have sex because that’s the only thing that will put the fire out!

Love as philia is a friendship love that brings creative inspiration. There can be a deep sense wanting to be together in companionship and co-creation. Philia is felt in the heart. We can write characters that have a feeling of philia for each other and it really screws things up if they do have sex. Or if one character is feeling the philia and the other is on fire with epithemia. These make great problems for convoluted story lines!

Love as Eros is felt in the soul. Eros is a god from which we get the word erotic, but to the ancient Greeks it was much more than just ‘sex’. The original definition of erotic (of Eros) is a situation when two or more people come together in such a way there is a lasting transformation. By this definition, sex is seldom erotic, but it can be. The Eros relationship is heady, intense, obsessive. It always leads to growth and change.

Love as agape is a divine love felt in the spirit. It may not need the body conneciton to feel fulfilled. This is also tantric, sex that opens the mind to another level of consciousness. Agape can lead to transcendence where characters move beyond their earthly limitations to become more than they ever thought possible.

Stories that contrast these kinds of love can be deeply moving because they speak to our own subtle and complex longings. One character feeling the ‘brotherly love’ of philia may be confronted by their companion’s erotic fire. Someone with the reverence of agape may not know how to face pure epithemia head on. It’s not unrequited love, exactly (it doesn’t have to distance characters) but it brings trouble and that’s exactly what we want in a good read! Mixing up the love keeps the stakes high and the dynamics flowing!

Readers will find all four brands of love in the Quantum Enchantment Series and to get you started, I’m giving away two copies of The Spell of Rosette, paperback or Kindle version, your choice! All you have to do to put your name in the hat is make a comment. Tell us what your favorite kind of love story is and be in the draw to win! Winners drawn on the Solstice, midnight June 21.

Kim Falconer is a Supernatural Underground author writing epic science fantasy novels. Kim’s latest series is Quantum Encryption. Book #1, Path of the Stray, and book #2, Road to the Soul are out now. Book #3, Journey by night is out Sept 1. Currently she’s writing an entirely new series. You can find out more about her at kim.falconer.com. She posts on the 16th of every month.