October 28, 2015

Author Branding - My New Logo

My first book, The Weaver, was published in December of 2010. Almost five years later I'm finally revealing my logo. What took so long? Author branding is harder than it looks.

Well maybe just for me. But I've been struggling to find a brand that would cover the variety of books I have published, while leaving room for whatever might come. Though my current works are all fiction, they span readers' ages from five to eighty-five (honestly I don't know the top age for young adult readers.) So it can't be too juvenile or too mature. My books can be categorized as speculative fiction, fantasy, contemporary, romance, and suspense. I couldn't think of anything that represented fiction beyond a book or a quill and I didn't want either of those.

One thought I kept coming back to is the emotion I try to put into my writing. Regardless of the age of the target audience I try to tap into the emotions the characters feel due to whatever their circumstances are in the book. I love emotion. I always have and I needed to use that in my brand.

Inspiration strikes at the strangest times. I'm not sure why it took me five years to think of this admittedly simple design. Maybe it's because five years ago my daughter wouldn't have been able to help me like she did. All I know is that when it finally struck me (ha ha, that's kind of a pun) I went to her and asked if she could create the image. It was embarrassingly easy for her. When I tried to draw a digital version it looked horrific. I asked her to change the bolt, the color scheme, add a feature and she did it all with ease. I'm really, really grateful. I call it the 'shot to the heart' design.

I created three different concepts of the logo. With something slightly different on each one. Then I turned to my newsletter subscribers and my street team for their votes. As with all votes I have with my readers, the winning design won by ONE vote. The funny thing is, it isn't the design that my daughter and I liked better. So your vote truly does matter. I thank each and every one of you who took the time to consider the options and cast a vote. I also got some great extra input.

At long last - five years and twelve books later - I present to you my logo:


You'll start seeing it pop up as a header on my social media pages and maybe I'll even give away some swag to my email subscribers since they were kind enough to help me choose the design.

Thanks everybody for your help in making this finally come together. I'm super happy with it and quite relieved to have something to work with. 

Cheers!

October 26, 2015

Climate Change and You…and Me and the Planet

I rarely step away from posting about writing—this being my author blog and all—but lately there has been a perfect storm of instances that has really made me think about our planet. Intriguing articles about fossil finds, which lead me to look up details about that period or that geographic area. Swarms of earthquakes all up and down the west coast, which spurs me to research volcanic activity through the ages. Articles on how fracking is a national security threat. All of these things make me think! It’s scary – me thinking, that is. And I can’t help myself. Sometimes I have to share my thoughts with you good people. It’s like if I ‘say it aloud’ I can get on to new, less consuming thoughts. Right now my mind won’t leave the immense power of our planet vs. the miniscule presence that is humanity.

Recently they found an enormous shark fossil in Texas. The prehistoric mega-shark swam around in a sea that covered what is now Texas and split the U.S and Canada into two separate landmasses. Imagine that sea. It was shallow as far as seas are concerned, originally created by shifting plates. It eventually retreated because of a continual uplift of sandstone and lagoons, leaving sharks like the one they recently discovered stranded on land to be fossilized, or maybe pushing their already fossilized selves up out of the water. Did you know sharks are so old, they pre-date trees? The first tree, a type that is long extinct, was part of a lush woodland that used to fill what is now the Sahara desert. Which, by the way, became an arid desert due to the monsoons shifting southward (not due to
pollution or deforestation.) I’ve also recently read that the Yellowstone super volcano has a super eruption every 600,000 to 700,000 million years (last one was 640,000 million years ago) and scientists think it has been super-erupting—eruptions that impact the world’s weather and tilt of the earth, etc—for 16 million years.

There are a lot of stories like this.

These stories, especially stories about things that happened before humans arrived on the scene, are the reason why cries to “Save the Planet” don’t resonate with me. The planet doesn’t actually care that we are here. Not anymore than it cared about the mega-shark, the dinosaurs, or that first tree. It has survived without us before, it will likely survive without us again.

What we need to do is “Save Humanity.” When we pollute the skies until we have to wear surgical masks to walk outside, we aren’t making a lasting affect on the planet that it can’t fix or adapt to on its own. We are impacting the quality of life for our fellow man. When we kill off the polar bears or create earthquakes by fracking, the world will simply continue on. Eventually it will shake us off like a dog after a bath.

I’m not disputing that we have a direct impact on our planet with our excessiveness and desire for convenience, I’m just sharing my own, admittedly novice opinion that we are like the flea biting the dog’s skin. Irritating, but nothing a good purge won’t fix. I mean—come on—16 million years of weather altering super-eruptions versus 2.5 million years of humanity. Heck, even the dinosaurs had 165 million years here before the earth abandoned them. Where’s the loyalty there? I doubt anyone out there is arrogant enough to think the planet finds us more important than the dinosaurs. However, we believe we are with our critical thinking and apposable thumbs. But do we look out for one another? No. We continually bite into the skin of the dog by building pollution-spewing factories and cutting down rain forests. Ordering brand new Halloween costumes online instead of piecing one together from the Goodwill. Buying a brand new car every few years instead of a lightly used one when we actually need it.

To the earth, humans are an irritating blip in its long, long history. We are a case of chicken pox. Maybe even only a 24 hour flu.

But not to each other. Our fellow humans—your friends, your family, your co-workers, your customers, your online acquaintances, your favorite clerk at the grocery store, the man behind the desk at the post office, the faceless person across from you and the four-way stop, the girl (now woman) you used to be best friends with in third grade who you no longer know, but who had a lasting impact on you…all the people everywhere are your entire reason for being. In some small miniscule way you are accountable to each of us for the actions you take that impact this planet. The planet doesn’t care. But I do. So does your mom.

Stop trying to save the planet and start trying to extend our time on earth. Focus on making the time we have here enjoyable. Recycle – for your children. Increase the instances you walk, bike, or use public transportation – for your best friend and neighbors. Grow your own veggies – for your family. Plant a tree for humanity. Consume less, upcycle more. Make responsible decisions and set strong examples for others. Let’s give each other a cleaner planet to live upon. Let’s be good stewards of our land and its resources and maybe it will let us stay a little longer.

October 19, 2015

My Favorite Childhood Books

We've been cleaning the garage, which means now our house is a mess. It's fun to walk down memory lane as I stumble upon pictures from when the kids were young or my middle school yearbooks. But one of the most surprising finds of all are my two favorite picture books from my childhood. Though I remember asking my mom for them (repeatedly - poor Mom) I don't remember actually taking possession of them, so I thought they were gone forever.

I'm so excited I thought I'd share them with you. They're so unique. Both are Hans Christian Andersen stories. The Little Mermaid and The Little Tin Soldier. They were published by Golden Press in 1966, meaning they'll turn 50 years old next year. The unique illustrations were done by Shiba Productions of Japan. I was completely enamored by these books when I was young and it hasn't changed.

The covers have a unique holographic 3D image. The pages of the books were thick cardboard (8 x 12 board books) Though there were some beautifully illustrated pencil sketches in both books, what intrigued me most were the pictures. The talented men of Shiba Productions crafted puppets for photo shoots for the picture books and the scenes intrigued me beyond measure. Then of course the stories. Mr. Andersen wasn't one for a happy ending and these two books were true to form, but even as a young child that didn't bother me.



The sea witch scared the bejeebies out of me!
Alas, no Prince for Ariel in this version.
My favorite of the two:

Drama and true love. You can't go wrong.
Another tragic ending, but beautiful sketches.
 What were your favorite childhood books?


October 16, 2015

The FulFillment Playlist - Character Interview


Layla’s world tumbles out of control when she discovers the truth of her parentage and realizes the Prophecy—the one she upended her entire life to defend—is incomplete. When her new friends share the entire Prophecy, the revelations contained within it alter her destiny and challenge everything she and Wil believe in. Now, she must confront the Outlander queen to save the Ethereal kingdom while grappling with this new reality.

Tortured and imprisoned, Nash accepts his fate and offers the First Ones the one thing he has left to give: his life. In a desperate attempt to save the people he loves most, he surrenders himself to the Outlander queen and a destiny darker than he could have ever dreamed possible.

Wil, tormented by the consequences of his choices, realizes he may never be able to uphold his end of the Prophecy. His mistake casts a deep, foreboding shadow over his kingdom and those he loves, while its ripples threaten to shatter both the Prophecy and everything he and his family have sworn to protect.

In this epic conclusion, lives are lost, kingdoms clash, friendships are tested, and love and fate collide.
***
I love to get to know book characters outside their book. Before or after I've read the book - it doesn't matter. Learning about them beforehand piques my interest more. Reading more about them after, solidifies my love of their quirkiness. To celebrate the release of The FulFillment by Erin Rhew, we are delving into the musical tastes of all three main characters, Layla, Wil, and Nash. 

I asked them to give me a sample of their playlists for the following activities:

Exercise:
Wil: “Master of Puppets” by Metallica
Wil struggles with the morality of his ability to control minds. When he’s working out, he can let down his public prince personae and release all the pent-up frustration he has to carry around in secret.
Nash: “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest
Nash had a volatile relationship with his father, and he always feels the need to prove something. He’d listen to angry music while he perfects his skills with the sword and battle axe.
Layla: “Love Is A Battlefield” by Pat Benatar
Since Layla is a Vanguard, someone endowed with superior strength, she views all of life through the prism of war. This song also has a great beat, so she can practice her sword fighting with flair. 

Hanging out at home:
Wil: “Marry Me” by Train
Wil is a romantic at heart, and even more so since he met Layla. He likes to chill out with a good book in the family’s library and zen out with romantic ballads.
Nash: “Centuries” by Fall Out Boy
Nash received constant rejection from his father, and because of that, he won’t let people get close to him. He leaves Layla to go to the Outlands though she begs him to stay. But at the same time, he doesn’t want anyone to forget him. When he’s alone, he contemplates his lot in life and longs to be important in a world.
Layla: “I Am The Fire” by Halestorm
As a Vanguard, Layla’s world is defined by strength, and she’s constantly questioning whether or not she has the strength for what’s to come. But she’s a fighter and a survivor, so when she’s alone, she often listens to angry or inspirational music to pump her up.

Romance:
Wil: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz
This song is the theme of the The Prophecy (Book 1). Wil feels like a greater destiny brought him together with Layla, but forces outside his control keep them apart. He wants Layla to know if she decides to choose him, he’ll wait for her.
Nash: “My Immortal” by Evanescence
This song is the theme song for The Outlanders (Book 2). In the scene (if you’ve read The Outlanders, you know what scene I mean), Nash’s devastation destroys him from the inside out. The Outlander queen knows his weakness and uses it against him.
Layla: “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry
This is the theme song for The Fulfillment. In this book, Layla’s world gets turned upside down in several ways. Everything she knew to be true is now false, and the life she’d envisioned for herself disappears. When the dust settles, she may just be all alone.


Buy Links


About the Author

Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police."

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.  

Find her online:
Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks

Rafflecopter Giveaway:

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October 12, 2015

October #InkRipples #Giveaway – Things That Go Bump in the Night

I remember reading Amityville Horror. I think I was about 12 years old and I was home alone a lot. I’d get so wrapped up in the book I wouldn’t notice the sun had set until I look up and found myself completely surrounded by black picture windows. I was terrified that the red pig eyes would appear, so I’d close my eyes and feel my way around the room to draw all the curtains closed – not opening my eyes until I was sure I wouldn’t see any black window surfaces.

It’s hard to scare me like that anymore. I think life experiences jade us enough that we are less prone to fears fueled by imagination, but I still get butterflies if I have to go out into the dark garage alone at night, or if I hear an unexplained noise scratch up against the house. *Shiver*

What scares you? Makes your heart pound so that it’s hard to hear? Freezes you in place?

To celebrate Halloween, I’m giving away two books again this month. YAY! First the winner will receive a copy of Ghost Touch by the super awesome author, LA Dragoni. (Okay, she might be me.) The winner will have his or her choice of an electronic copy - any version - or a dowload code good for one audiobook copy from Audible.

Ghost Touch by LA Dragoni
For fifteen minutes each night a portal opens in Tamar’s barn and a horde of ghosts spills into her yard. She and Dex work together to find a way to help Cal and the thousands of spirits stuck in the void to cross over. When she learns she has the ghost touch—the ability to touch the ghosts as if they were corporeal—and she accidentally helps a little boy cross, she believes it might be possible. But not all the spirits play nice and when they learn they can sip energy from her ghost touch, they become greedy putting her life at risk.

Each time Cal has to pull her from the mass of ghosts, her touch restores him more and more until he is at danger of being stuck on earth—forever, which is very enticing to Tamara the better she knows him. Will she and Dex figure out how to help the spirits cross and if they do, will she be able to let Cal go?

Available from Amazon

And because I like to support other books and authors, the winner will also receive a Kindle copy of one of the following books that I’ve read and enjoyed and find creepy enough for the season:

A mysterious island.
 
An abandoned orphanage.
 
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
 
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
  
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead--keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
  
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle is The Replacement - left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. He has been raised among us. But he is not one of us. Now, he must face the dark creatures of the slag heaps from which he came and find his rightful place - in our world or theirs.


As usual, there are super easy ways to enter; pin, add to Goodreads or Tweet right from the rafflecopter:
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And now that you've entered, visit the other ink ripples.
Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the second Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

October 9, 2015

Cover Reveal - The Squire And The Slave Master by Eric Price

This business allows me to meet some really great people. Among them is young adult fantasy author, Eric Price. I'm excited because we are approaching release time for the second book in Eric's Saga of the Wizards series. Today I'm happy to help Eric show off the awesome cover as well as share an excerpt from the book. Eric - take it away!
***
My favorite cover artist in the world is C. K. Volnek for two reasons. First, her covers are amazing: check them out here. Second, she designed the cover for my first two books with Muse it Up Publishing.

Blurb:

The award winning Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud (CLC’s Best First Novel 2014) chronicled Yara, Owen, and Cedric’s quest to revive King Kendrick from a dark, magical spell. After the adventure to save King Kendrick, for Yara, everyday life has grown monotonous. The dull work of learning her father’s blacksmithing trade, and the pressure from her parents to decide what she plans on doing with her life, has her nerves so stressed she snaps at her father’s slightest teasing.

Lucky for her, a surprise messenger from the castle brings the king’s request for her to join a collaborative mission between the Central and Western Domains of Wittatun to stop a recently discovered slave operation in a land to the west. King Kendrick and Owen want her to accompany the mission as a secret weapon disguised as a squire. 

She has to keep secret not only her magical abilities from any possible traitors, but also her gender. The people of the Western Domain have a superstition prohibiting girls from sailing. But a chill wind carries the distinct odor of sabotage. Can one girl survive to destroy an evil rooted much deeper than mere slavery?

Excerpt:


“I don’t know  how long I’ll be gone.” Yara cut the fat from an emmoth rib. “I don’t suppose anyone knows. It will take as long as needed to end the slavery.”

Her mother pushed her mostly untouched meal around her plate. “I’d prefer you didn’t go. It sounds dangerous.”

“Mother, these people are engaging in slavery. Not farm animals forced to work, they’re humans.”

“I understand. I’m not saying we shouldn’t intervene. I’m just not sure why you have to go.”

“King Kendrick and Owen think an undercover magician could give us an advantage. I agree with them. Besides, I want to go. I need to get away from here for a while. Plus, I’m an adult now. You can’t tell me what to do.” Chancing a glance at her father, she hoped she hadn’t upset him again. Their earlier argument had been mostly in jest, but the comment she made about her brother must have stung.

Instead of looking angry, he leaned back in his chair and chewed his emmoth meat. When he finished, he grinned. “Don’t get upset, Kamala. At least she told us she planned on leaving this time.”

"When I left in search of Owen and Cedric, I didn’t have time to tell you. This time we have a plan.” Yara chewed her last piece of rib meat. She’d snuck out after her parents had turned in for the night.
She could usually count on her father to have a level head…when he wasn’t provoking her about a woman’s place in the world.

Her mother cleared her uneaten food from the table. “I don’t presume to tell you what to do. I just want to make sure you’ve considered all the aspects of the mission.”

 “To the best of my ability, I have considered all aspects. First, I have to travel as a boy. Aside from my appearance, I shouldn’t have trouble with this. My best friend is a boy, and I’ve never had much interest in girly activities. And why would I? As a child, playing with dolls couldn’t compare to chasing piglets through the muddy stockyards.”

Her mother’s eyes lightened for the first time that evening. “You also don’t care much for washing clothes. If you did, you’d have realized most of the mess you got into in the stockyards wasn’t mud in the truest sense.”

She laughed. “Fair enough. Now my second concern, while traveling as a boy, I’m best to not get caught. Big burly men, out to sea for several days, may have more interest in a helpless girl than just someone to whom they could confide their deepest secrets.” She grinned, raised her hand above her head, and caused a blue flame to burst forth from her palm. “Good thing I’m not a helpless girl.”
As long as they don’t attack me in my sleep.

Her father collected the dirty dishes.

Yara helped him clear the table. “If I can keep my fa├žade, the trip should sail by, so to speak. Once we get to Buisna, we’ll have to find the ruler of the slave operation. I suppose this could present itself as a difficult task, but at least I won’t have to do it alone.”

Of course there’s always the question of what we’ll find in Buisna. Why does a country the size of the Western Domain need our help? How large is this new country? How many people are there to fight? The military of the Central Domain is weakened from the attack by the Wizard Rebellion. Why would King Kendrick decide to send troops at a time like this? Do they know, or suspect, more than Owen told me?

With the table cleared of dishes, Yara stretched and yawned. “Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll retire to bed early tonight. Shoeing that horse wore me out, and I need to get some thorough rest before my training tomorrow.” She hugged her mother. “Everything will work out. King Kendrick and Owen will have a strategy planned for the whole mission.”

A loud, rapid knocking at the front door startled her. Answering it, she found Owen standing with a man about his same size but a few years older, donned in the armor of the King’s Sentry.

Owen glanced around the room, his eyes wide and observant but clear of any panic. “Yara, you have to come to Innes Castle now. The plans have changed. You’re leaving tonight.”

Links for Unveiling the Wizards' Shroud:

Muse It Up
AmazonBarnes & NobelSmashwordsOmniLitApple iTunes

Bio:

Eric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, scheduled for a Fall 2015 release, continues the Saga of the Wizards. He is a member of SCBWI. Find him online at authorericprice.com.



October 7, 2015

#IWSG - Doing My Laundry (Instead of Writing)

Visit Alex Cavanaugh to find out more

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


Our co-hosts for October are:
Tamara Narayan   http://www.tamaranarayan.com/  
Eva E. Solar   http://lilicasplace.com/  
Shannon Lawrence    http://thewarriormuse.blogspot.com/
Stephanie Faris  http://stephie5741.blogspot.com/  

After you've left a kernel of wisdom for me in the comment section, please visit the hosts to show your support.

My post:

I recently started writing a new book. I've been mulling the idea over for a while and I'm pretty excited to dive in...except when it's actually time to dive in, then I seem to find a million other things to distract me. 

I wrote a short story to introduce the book and posted it on Lightning Quick Reads, the themed, multi-author short story blog I'm a part of. I've never struggled with a story like I struggled with this one. I'm not really sure I'm even all that happy with it, but I ran out of time and my wonderful critique partner scolded me when I suggested I just resurrect an old story to post instead. Besides, my talented daughter illustrated it - clickable picture in the sidebar - so I was excited to show off her work, at least.

Basically I think all of my writing is crap right now. I feel like I can't say anything I want to say. Can't say it to the depth I want to the reader to visualize it. I know - I KNOW I need to just get that first draft of my novel out of my fingers and into my computer, but there's always Facebook, and Twitter, and Pinterest. There's recycling to take out and clothes that will benefit from a stern hand washing <--bet you've never used that excuse before!

Maybe if I threaten to participate in NaNoWriMo, it'll get me to focus and dash out some words. Even that cruddy first draft wouldn't be as bad as a NaNo first draft! I told myself I hoped to NEVER need to do NaNo again. Hmmm, I might be onto something. 

What do you do to focus yourself?