Tentacles and Teeth Cover!

I'm very excited to reveal to you the cover of Tentacles and Teeth, the first book in the Land of Szornyek serial! If you haven't signed up already, you can by clicking here. I will be releasing the first chapter tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, May 29, 2018).

And with no further ado: 

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The cover was designed by Claire at Eight Little Pages Cover Design and I am in love with it. It does everything--gives the book a solid YA feel; provides the reader with a tantalizing taste of the monsters that are so prevalent throughout the story; shows a sneak peek at the personality of Askari, the heroine;  and gives glimpse of the world itself. It's also a little spooky and scary and eye-catching. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it! 

Tentacles and Teeth is the story of Askari. She is a Warrior within the Baratok community, a nomadic town that travels to avoid the monsters plaguing the land. Askari is one of their strongest warriors, but she's also independent, stubborn, and not a huge fan of the stringent rules put in place by the Baratok elders. In the first chapter, she sneaks off on her own to track Shujaa, an underage warrior, and runs smack dab into a nagy, a large, twelve-tentacled garg (their slang for monsters) that prefers human meat for dinner. This is chapter one, so the question is not if she will survive, but how.

This chapter was the first chapter I ever wrote when I initially conceived of the series. It was originally associated with the second book (I have a tendency to write things in the wrong order) but I stole it back for book 1. It has influenced everything about the series, including the cover, the images I use for branding (look at the top of my website!), my ads--basically I put tentacles on everything because of this monster. The nagy is the monster that most represents my series, and while it may not be the most creative or weird or unusual or scary of the monsters I've come up with, it will always be my first monster.

As always, click here to get blog posts (about monsters, the universe, and everything) delivered to your inbox weekly!

Beamed Up Anthology - Amphibian Press

Everything's all happening at once AHHHHHHH

This is how I feel:

What all is happening? you might ask. 

Well, I've already mentioned Land of Szornyek Book 1: Tentacles and Teeth, only once here, but multiple times via newsletter, Facebook, etc., etc., and even if it doesn't look like much is going on right now, I am scrambling behind the scenes to finish it all. Click here for everything you need to know about that.

Then there's freelance, family, dog, cats, life, etc. (just have to throw this in so my husband doesn't feel like I've forgotten about him haha).

Also, this weekend I'll be at Balticon for four days, which I am very much looking forward too. If you're in the Baltimore area, drop in and say hey!

AND, I'm excited to announce that on top of all that, my short story titled The Stalk, has been selected for publication by Amphibian Press in their science fiction anthology BEAMED UP. Woooo! The book is available for preorder now: click here. It's only $2.99! If you preorder, email a copy of your receipt to beamedup89@gmail.com and get some fun behind-the-scenes sketches and other fun stuff. The book will be released on June 19th.

And now I'm going to leave you with this cat and an excerpt from my short story. Shoot me a message if you have any questions about anything. Otherwise I'll be buried under work and stories and comic con and cats for the next couple of weeks.

As always, click here to get blog posts (about monsters, the universe, and everything) delivered to your inbox weekly!

 

 

THE STALK [An Excerpt]

Jack stood at the edge of the Hole with nothing but a guard rail between her and a vast chasm of emptiness. She heaved a bag of dirt up and emptied it over the edge; it poured out like a waterfall, each clump getting smaller and smaller until she couldn’t see it any more. Then she dropped the plastic in after it, watching the white float away, down into the endless blackness the Hole.

She wiped the sweat off her brow and turned to grab another bag; then she shrieked as a holographic form of a woman in a tightly fitting skirt and blouse appeared, startling her.

“Do you need the perfect gift for your child, spouse, parent, or friend?” it asked, too cheerfully. “Consider buying a four-foot replica of the Stalk, a gorgeous, majestic reminder of the technology that brings life to the loyal citizens here on Jord!”

“Go away, dammit!” Jack growled, mumbling her deactivation code, “B1143.” The hologram winked out of existence as she turned toward the foreman’s platform, and yelled, “Boss! That’s the fifth holo today!”

“One of the dampeners is broken,” Faith yelled back. “You’re just going to have to deal with it! Get back to work!” 

Jack glanced at the time and then smiled. She only had ten minutes left—though, if another holo appeared proclaiming the wonders of the Stalk before she got out, she might just jump into the Hole like so many other Diggers before her had.

She tossed four more bags of dirt into the Hole, not for the first time wishing they could just use hover carts like everyone else in town. Unfortunately, the dampeners did more than just block out the stupid holos—they also made it impossible to use any hover technology within a fifty-foot radius of the Hole. Her watch beeped, and she headed toward the locker room. Faith was waiting for her inside, wearing high heels and enormous gold earrings with red LED-beads in the center.

“We’ll have the holos sorted out before you get back,” Faith said, looking down at her clipboard. 

“What do you mean, ‘by the time I get back’?” Jack asked, a feeling of dread growing in the pit of her stomach. She spun around to look at her locker; three green bulbs glowed just over the door. Three beans. That meant…

“You’ve been selected to do a day at the Stalk,” Faith said without smiling. “Remember, you’re representing all of us here at the Hole. We want the funders to understand that what we do is vital work in the community, and that we love doing it.”

“I don’t love it,” Jack said bluntly, yanking her locker open and pulling out her backpack. Her wristband beeped as her hand passed under the beans; three green lights appeared on it. If she tried to run away, they would be able to track her down and make her go to the Stalk anyway, plus she'd probably have to go to jail. “I dump dirt into an endless chasm of darkness for a living. What’s to love about that?”

“Pretend you do or you’re fired.” Faith strode away, heels clicking against the tiled floor, bracelets jangling. 

“Won’t matter if I’m dead,” Jack muttered. 

Petrov burst into the locker room, followed by Shelly.

“Drinks tonight?” he asked, before skidding to a halt. He looked at Jack’s locker, then at her face. “You got three beans?” he gasped. 

“Three beans?” Shelly echoed. 

“You know what they say,” Petrov said. “Don’t drink the water, don’t eat anything they give you—”

“Or breathe their air if you can avoid it,” Shelly interjected. 

“—don’t read their pamphlets, submit to any scientific testing, don’t take any pills they give you—”

“Petrov!” Jack interrupted. “It’s going to be fine. I’m going to be fine.”

“That’s what Steven said,” Shelly reminded her. 

“And Paulie,” said Petrov.

“Yolanda,” said Shelly. 

“Robby, Tonk, and Meri.”

“Fink and Hazel.”

“It’s an 80% jump rate,” Petrov added.

“I’m not going to jump into the Hole,” Jack said, exasperated. “I’ve spent years feeding that thing—I’m not going to feed myself to it too.”

“They all said that.” Shelly had tears in her eyes. 

“You were one of my favorites.” Petrov stepped forward and wrapped her in a hug, his sweaty stench filling Jack’s nostrils. 

“I can’t believe you got picked!” Shelly wailed, throwing her arms around both of them. 

“Okay, that’s enough.” Jack wiggled her way out from the group hug and glared at them. “I’m not going to die. I’ll be back.”

“That’s what they all said,” Petrov said with finality, shaking his head. “We’ll toast to you tonight.” He raised a hand in the air dramatically.

“Fine.” Jack rolled her eyes and grabbed her bag. “See you all the day after tomorrow.”
 

Monsters and Facebook Live [New Release Incoming!]

It's been quite a while since I posted a blog, but in the meantime, I've been quite busy. The end of last year was crazy, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, traveling between NH, MD, and NY, and the fact that Josh works for a giant retail company and had to work a bajillion extra hours. Then when the new year rolled around, I went all in, head down, on my newest project, Land of Szornyek, Book 1: Tentacles and Teeth. I'm really excited about it, and I'm thrilled to finally be sharing it with you!

Watch out for monsters.

So, where to start? Usually I start with monsters, because that's pretty cool, so, here's a monster pic: 

 Called a nagy. Really dangerous; avoid.

Called a nagy. Really dangerous; avoid.

A couple of years ago I came up with this idea: what if the apocalypse were caused by the sudden and inexplicable appearance of crazy big and terrifying monsters, unlike anything humans had ever seen before? What would that look like? How would people survive? It contains all of the traditional aspects of an apocalyptic tale--mass population die-off, struggling to survive off the land, raiding cities and towns for resources, trying to rebuild despite the new challenge, etc., but with monsters. 

So I started writing. I finished the rough draft of the first book a year and a half ago, but I couldn't do anything with it because something was wrong with it, I just didn't know what. So I set it aside and continued working on my other projects (All In: A Prequel, and The Polylocus Problem) and then came back to it. Then, it hit me (like a boomerang).

Guess what the problem was. 

I had written the wrong book! I accidentally wrote Book 2 of Land of Szornyek (Called City of Dod) instead of Book 1. Oops, lol. (Fun fact: this is a common problem for me.)

So I went back to my desk and started at the actual beginning, this time finishing up Tentacles and Teeth in a surprisingly short amount of time.

But I had a new problem: it was weird. Each chapter had a new monster and its own complete story, and I wanted to do something different with it, as opposed to just releasing it like I do every other book. 

Enter Patreon

Patreon is a really cool new platform, designed to allow regular everyday people to become patrons of the arts. Its set up to be extremely affordable, but so that artists and authors and musicians can rely on a certain amount of money each time they create something new.

It had other benefits too. For example, during my writing process I had created myriad world-building materials--sketches of monsters, characters, and scenes; maps of the world I was building; plot maps, a guidebook of monsters for the curious, plus I was working on the audio versions. I wanted a way to share all of this with the people who were excited about the project, and Patreon offered that as well--a members only space to get access to new content, free fun stuff like drawings and whatnot, discussions about the work, and more. 

So that's what I've done.

You can check out the Patreon page here and take a look at the different levels of patronship available. 

Now, I recognize that this kind of thing isn't for everybody, so never fear. Eventually, once the entire serial has been released, I will be re-releasing it as an omnibus so that everyone else can read it as well (in the written and audio formats). That probably won't be for another year, though, so you'll have to hold your horses :)

I'm really excited.

I just want to end by saying (again) that I'm really excited about this project. Like, Josh is kind of tired of me talking about it constantly (though endlessly supportive), and I have monster drawings all over my house, and I'm even thinking of having a party about it, I'm so excited (and I'm not a party person). I really, really, really want to share an excerpt too, but I can't, because patrons get to see it first!

But keep your eyes peeled: I'll be doing a bunch more talking about it on social media; in particular, on Wednesday, May 9th at 6:00 PM EST, I will be doing a Facebook Live video (click here for link), so you can come chat me up, ask questions, and learn a bit more about the project!

Below, I've also pulled in the video I made to explain the whole Patreon thing, so check it out :)

In The Shadow of Monsters

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Happy Halloween! I'm excited to let you know about the newest anthology I'm part of, titled, In the Shadow of Monsters. There are four different short stories by four different authors. I really enjoyed collaborating with this particular group, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again. 

Even better, it's free! Click below for your preferred platform: 

I hope you'll consider downloading a copy--every download helps us expand our reach and get our book out to more people. 

There will also be a hard copy available soon. 

Thanks!

Click here to get blog posts (about book, the universe, and everything) delivered to your inbox weekly!

 

My Mom Says I'm Sneaky

I swear this is mildly relevant, but my mom likes to tell this story about me when I was probably 3 or 4: 

 This isn't the same instance my mom is remembering, but, well, as you can see, this was a common activity for me.

This isn't the same instance my mom is remembering, but, well, as you can see, this was a common activity for me.

"My favorite to remember--I was really mad at you at the time--was when you vanished, and when I found you, you were hiding under the piano as far back as you could, the furthest spot you could get from the main part of the house, very patiently coloring your face with markers. Each section was a different color. You had done a very tidy job, but I wasn't amused. So yes, you started being sneaky from a very young age. Of course, you brought it full circle when you pulled of our 60th birthday party. Nearly gave me a heart attack, but it worked."

So anyway, bring it back to today, I've been a little sneaky, distracting you all by releasing The Polylocus Problem, while simultaneously prepping and releasing a brand new title called All In: A Prequel. Yup. Because I don't have enough things to do...

Anyway, I'm super excited about this. You know why? Because it's free! For everyone! For always! 

CLICK HERE.

That was an Amazon link. You can also grab it on iTunes, B&N, and Kobo

Your next question will be: why?

 Cover! <3

Cover! <3

Yes, well, good question. Chief Executive Producer (ie Josh) and I have been working on a new, larger, better, marketing and branding initiative for me, myself, and my books. This is Step 1. All In will forever and ever be free (until the great almighty Amazon decides otherwise, of course) so that you and your friends and your friends' friends and your friends' friends' friends can easily take a dip into the Sagittan Chronicles universe. It's a short (novella) intro to the characters, the world, and my writing style. If you like it, then guess what? There's a whole series of books for you to keep working your way through. If you don't? No worries--you (and your friends' friends and your friends' friends' friends, et al) didn't waste a penny.

So, here's where I'm at now: downloads.

First, please download the book. You don't have to read it (though it's great, so you should). Just download it. It'll help the Amazon (and iTunes/Kobo/Nook) algorithms reach out to more and more people. 

My goal is to have 10,000 downloads of All In by the end of the year (Dec 31). If that happens, I will draw all over my face again (as an adult) with markers (not makeup!), but on video so you can watch. No mirror, just markers. I'll think about it ahead of time too, so I can plan something epic. If you'd like to see this happen, share with your friends, friends' friends, and friends' friends' friends and get them to download a copy too. At the time of writing, I have 57 downloads on Amazon (and 4 on the other platforms). 

Aside from downloading your own copy and sharing, the other thing you can do is leave a review. As soon as I have 5 reviews, I can start doing some other marketing activities to help reach that 10,000 downloads goal. 

So there you have it, friends, friends' friends, and friends' friends' friends. 

These are the voyages of the star ship Ariele. Her mission: to get lots of downloads of the book All In over the next several months; to boldly go where no book has gone before! (Yes, I stole that--did you see a new Star Trek series has started [yay!] but it's only on CBS's streaming service [aw :( ].) Click here to download the book on Amazon.

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