Friday, December 16, 2011

And the winners are…

Congrats to the winners of the Book Lover’s Holiday Giveaway Hops: Jade Teo, Dinky, Jenny Vasquez and Bonnie Harris; and a big thank you to Livia of Butterfly-o-Meter Books and JoAnne of The Fairytale Nerd for hosting the giveaways.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Fairytale Nerd’s Interview & Giveaway

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by reviewer JoAnne of The Fairytale Nerd. It’s a fun, light piece. You can read the entire interview right here. I am also participating in the Book Lover’s Holiday Giveaway Hop…at The Fairytale Nerd as well! I’m giving away two paperbacks and one ebook. Hurry up and sign up for a chance to win! :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back on the horse

After nearly a month hiatus from writing (mostly spent entertaining and enjoying a visiting family member, and also thanks to a sick puppy — worry not, she’s all better now), I'm happy to say I'm back on the “proverbial” horse. It feels good to return to my usual work routine and reconnect with the characters of my still unfinished urban fantasy. Yeeeah, about that... I’m very annoyed with myself for not having finished that book yet. This is very unlike me. I’m distracted latterly, and often found myself plotting the historical novel I plan to write next instead of concentrating on the book at hand. ($%##%) I’d better stop that now and straighten up! :-(

On another note, I recently gave an interview to The Fairytale Nerd, a reviewing site, which will be posted December 1st. The interview will be accompanied by a giveaway contest, so keep an eye open for it. Also, I was glad to see that the review copies I’ve sent to reviewer Majanka Verstraete of I Heart Reading in Belgium have arrived safely. Woo hoo!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Italian Love Cake

I love to bake. It’s one of my favorite pastimes.
I especially love trying new recipes. Yesterday, I make an Italian Love Cake.
It’s so good and easy to make; I thought I’d share the recipe with everyone.
So here it is:



Italian Love Cake

• 1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
• 2 pints part-skim ricotta cheese
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 4 eggs
• 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
• 1 cup milk
• 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
• Prepare cake mix as directed on box. Pour batter into 9 x 13 x 2 inch greased baking dish. Set aside.
• Combine ricotta cheese, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Blend well. Spread mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter.
• Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 75 minutes if using a glass baking dish, 90 minutes if using a metal pan.
• Blend pudding mix and milk until thickened. Blend in whipped topping. Spread over cooled cake.

Bon app├ętit. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New review of The Digging Crew

YA reviewer Felicia Chien of Livin’ Life Through Books wrote a great review of The Digging Crew. She gave it a 4.5/5. Woot! :-D

“A great story with characters that grow on you from the very beginning.“

This is The Digging Crew’s first review since it’s been re released. Check it out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You know you are at a Sci-fi convention when...


Ghostbusters are stationed in the corridors



or when stormtroopers are hanging out at Starbucks.




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Off to VCON

I’m leaving for VCON, Vancouver’s premier science fiction and fantasy convention, early tomorrow morning. I’m going with friends, so it’s going to be fun. I’ll tell you all about it when I’m back. :-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reviews

When THE DIGGING CREW was first published in 2005 a lot of reviews were done. Through the years some of those reviews have vanished for one reason or another, but fortunately, many still remain. Here's a few of them: (Check out the original cover…it’s ugly.)

Coffee Time Romance Reviews:

“This is a well-written story filled with descriptions so vivid that I felt like I was down in the dark mines running alongside Sammy. Heart-stopping action and suspense, combined with a fast-paced plot, are the driving forces behind The Digging Crew. If you enjoy non-stop action, Science Fiction, and girl-power, this book is for you.”

The Best Reviews:

“Mindful of Roger Corman's women in prison flicks, THE DIGGING CREW is a wonderful tale of survival. This is a terrific futuristic thriller in which the strong survive and these women are some of the strongest.”

Caribooks: Reviews with Care:

“I like stories that put together the technology of the future and that of the past ― steel and stone, laser beams and oil lamps, rocket fuel and steam engines… So, when I have got the occasion to read “The Digging Crew”, I had some expectations about quality and setting of the story. Well, I am pleased to say that my expectations have been fulfilled.”

KC Heath, Escape Time:

“THE DIGGING CREW covers the extensive breadth of this escape in writing that is totally present and full of action. There's some pretty cool science in the story, both technological and biological. The characterization is good. The prose is clean, efficient, and well tensioned.”

Reviewer’s Choice Reviews:

“THE DIGGING CREW is actually chick lit in a new setting…. Sammy and her group kidnapped my attention and held it until their demands were met.”

Fallen Angel Reviews:

“Other reviewers have referred to this book as “science fiction chick lit,” and I have to agree! It was nice to see strong female characters willing to do what was necessary to stay alive. I was quite intrigued by the twists and turns of the story, and enjoyed it…”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Movie report

A friend and I went to see Contagion the other day. The movie had received good reviews. Plus, it had a stellar cast and an interesting premise. So I was sure it was going to be quite good. Well, I was totally disappointed. The movie is not bad per say. The acting is solid, and the story provides a realistic depiction of the impact of a pandemic outbreak of an infectious disease on society beyond the infection itself. But after a strong start, the story slow down almost to a halt. The action is fractured in too many tales, and not enough time is spent with each one for the viewers to get involved with its characters. In brief, Contagion is okay, but failed to deliver on its promises. :-/

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Digging Crew is now live

That's right! The Digging Crew is now available on Amazon.com for the low, low price of .99¢! So if you haven't already, you should check it out!



Here is the back jacket for The Digging Crew:

When the women of crew 56 planned their escape from the hellish prison-mine of Carmel 5, they thought of everything…well, almost everything.

Sammy’s life is a nightmare, and it’s all her fault. First, she is caught shoplifting—a big no-no in the hard-on-crime Dominion’s world—and is shipped to a prison-mine for women on a faraway desert planet. Then on her first week there, she destroys a droid belonging to the prison…on purpose. So when she’s sent deep into the pit of the mine as punishment, Sammy doubts she’ll live to see her sixteenth birthday. After all, this is the diggers’ level, and they are the prison’s most violent criminals. To her surprise, she finds a new family in one of the digging crews. But she also makes a deadly enemy. Can she and her crew manage to escape the prison and regain their freedom?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Splash

I’ve finished uploading THE DIGGING CREW this morning. Yay! The hardcopies are going to be 14.99 and the electronic ones only .99¢. Yeah! .99 cents. The Kindle version should be available in a day or two. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting ready to take the plunge

Okay, that’s it, no more delay! Tomorrow I will begin uploading THE DIGGING CREW on CreateSpace, Kindle and Smashwords. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I’ve been wanting to re-release this book--originally published by LTDBooks in 2005--for a while, but kept postponing it. Probably because THE DIGGING CREW is the first book I wrote and was meant more as an exercise than anything else. The fact that it did get published was an exciting surprise, considering that this book is every marketing department’s biggest nightmare. It’s a YA science-fiction action-adventure chick-lit story set in a prison-mine with no romance…. Oh yeah, and all the characters in the book are guilty; there are no innocent in that prison. Darn, what was I thinking? :/ I love it though. It’s fun! It’s fast! It’s suspenseful! It has kiss-ass characters! (No kidding, some asses will be “literally” kicked in this book.) These women don’t need to be saved. They are saving themselves. Of course, being a first novel, THE DIGGING CREW has the flaws of its qualities…and I’m sure a lot of people will tell me what they are. Well, I’ve put my armor on, and I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, feast your eyes on the striking cover artist Michelle Milburn did for it.




Most YA book covers are dark, so, of course, we went with white. ;)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Continuing Characters

Amir and I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Sci-Fi author Lynda Williams for her blog Reality Skimming. She asked us a clever blend of quirky and insightful questions, which made for a fun interview. You can read it by clicking here: Continuing Characters

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ethics in SF

There is a particularly interesting interview with Adrinn Dembo about Ethics in SF over at Reality Skimming. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

WWC report

I’m back from When Words Collide. It was a wonderful convention. I loved It! Randy McCharles and his team did an amazing job putting this event together. Bravo, guys!

Here are some of the highlights: Turning History into Fiction with panelists Krista Ball, Ron Freidman, Barb Galler-Smith, Derryl Murphy, Tim Reynolds and Jack Whyte. This was the panel I found the most interesting.


The EDGE party was super fun. Everybody got to wear feather boas and drink giggle juice.

My favorite panel/round table was Writing In English…as a Second Language with Marie Bilodeau, Harold Cardona, Ann Cooney, Ron Freidman, Neil Godbout and me. It was downright cathartic. So much so in fact, we all agreed to do it again next year.

But I think the most amazing moment of the con was when Jake Whyte sang The Hippopotamus Song at the Dead Dog. AWESOME!



The weekend was capped off with a tour of the Royal Tyrell Museum with Robert J. Sawyer as guide. How cool is that! :)





Thursday, August 11, 2011

WWC, here I come

I’m leaving for When Words Collide, Calgary’s new science fiction and fantasy convention, early tomorrow morning. I’m going with a group of friends and authors, so it’s going to be fun. Expect my next post to contain a detailed account of the Con, and, yes, there will be pictures too.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Done and done

I’m super happy because I’ve finally finished prepping The Digging Crew for its re-release this fall. All I’m missing is the cover. What this means for me is that besides doing some promotion for Death in the Traveling City, I can now concentrate most of my time on the creative side of writing. Woo hoo! I wonder how hard it’s going to be to re-immerse myself into BV, my long-neglected urban fantasy. I would love to remain optimistic about it, but sadly, I foresee difficulties. We’ll see.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yep, I'm on Twitter

Yep, I just joined the mass this morning. I opened a Twitter account. Follow me.




Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer blues

I can’t believe July is almost over. Geez. Half the summer is gone; I haven’t finished landscaping my yard, and I’ve only BBQ’d twice. :( But it’s not all bad news. The trade paperback version of Death in the Traveling City is now available most everywhere. And I’m almost finished prepping The Digging Crew for its fall release. Fingers crossed. I only have one last format to do. Yay! I met with Michelle, the illustrator who does the artworks for my books, and we threw ideas around for the cover. A few stuck. Needless to say I can’t wait to see the first sketch for this one.

On a different note, I saw several good movies this summer. Thor was entertaining, although the love story felt force. That aspect of the plot didn’t work for me. X-men: First Class was really good. I especially liked Michael Fassbender in the role of Magneto. That’s smart casting! Of course, I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2. I loved it! I thought it was a highly satisfying ending for this series. I wasn’t sure they could pull it together, but they did. I’m a bit sad that’s it over though. I also saw Captain America and enjoyed it quite a bit. It has the right blend of humor and action--a fun movie.


Monday, July 11, 2011

The evolution of a cover

We all know the importance of a good book cover. Nowadays, the book’s cover is one of the most important selling components to a book. Covers hook readers and are the first thing to draw them in. (The average person spends 8 seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds on the back. It is a fact, that the front cover of a book is what draws the initial attention from the buyer, if he doesn’t like the cover, he won’t look any closer at the book.) No kidding. :/ Designing a good book cover is not easy; it’s a bit of a balancing act. So I thought I’ll ask the artist who created my cover to explain her process to us.

The evolution of a cover

By Michelle Milburn
-------------
1. This cover was a bit of an experiment for me with using photomanipulation as a tool in digital painting. I started out with a sketch that was a combination of photo and drawing. At this point I was primarily concerned with keeping unity with the first two covers, which both included two figures (one of which was Amir) in the foreground. Each book also has a unique cultural setting, which is depicted in the background.I used the first book's cover as a guide for the size of the title text, as well as a little bit of colour (mostly whited out in this first image.) I wanted an arrangement of the two figures in the foreground to be similar to book two's cover, which has Amir facing off against a bear. However, this time I wanted Amir to face forward, while I thought one of the book's antagonists (Mokoi) would make a good imposing figure in the foreground. The setting for book three is an Asian-inspired travelling city, so this was the natural environment for the two figures. At this point I'm just playing around with the elements, which at this point are as visually disimilar as they can get. My Amir placeholder is a ridiculous-looking little blob, so...



2. ...let's sketch him a little more presentably. Also, adjusted the ratio to fit the Kindle, though I left some sky space above this in Photoshop so the book can be used with other ratios as well. After meeting with Nathalie I sought out some specifically Korean roofs for the buildings. Since roofs are one of the most striking features of Korean architecture, I thought I should take advantage of this feature when depicting the book's setting. I am taking roofs from some photos and adding them to buildings from other photos to make new buildings, then drawing what I need on top. (Notice the guy with the backpack on the left. He is going to go when I begin painting.) Also, the buildings have been rearranged.





3. Buildings still shifting a bit, though not as much as before. Also, we need more atmosphere here, and the right hand side of the picture is looking really heavy to me at this point. I love the colours of the sky in book one, so I temporarily reveal them by erasing my Photoshop "whiteout" where I feel the sky could be darker. I will repaint the sky later (don't want to steal!), but these are the colours I'm interested in using and I'm just playing with composition.




4. Buildings painted. The clouds are painted with a custom cloud brush I created using Photoshop's brush editor.




5. Amir gets his final makeover, and Mokoi gets a few touchups as well.




6. The picture is a little dark, so let's brighten it up and add titles. Also, Amir was previously holding a sabre, but in the book he's described as wielding a rapier, so I fixed that. Add the title and byline, and we have a cover!






Monday, July 4, 2011

THE NOT SO SHORT…CUTS

Here’s a very interesting article about shortcuts to publishing by fantasy novelist Jordan Summers.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Live

It is official! Death in the traveling City is now available on Kindle. :D Plus, I’ve finished uploading it on Smashwords. It went without any problems (yay), so it should be available in a day or two. Fingers crossed. As for the paper version, I’m waiting to review the poof before launching it. I should receive my copy this week. Let’s hope the postal strike doesn’t delay things too much.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Uploading

I’ve just finished uploading DEATH IN THE TRAVELING CITY on Amazon CreateSpace. I did the paper version first because it takes longer before everything is sorted out and the book becomes available for purchase. Next I will upload the electronic version on Kindle and Smashwords. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

DEATH IN THE TRAVELING CITY

I’ve finished formatting DEATH IN THE TRAVELING CITY, but it’s not fully ready to be released yet. It should be available within a couple of weeks on Amazon Kindle, Smashwords and BN Nook. Print copies will also be available. Until then, here is a sneak peek at the cover:


Michelle Milburn is the talented artist who did the cover art for this volume. Learn more about her in coming posts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interesting Article

The stars of modern SF choose their favourite novel or author in the genre.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/may/14/science-fiction-authors-choice

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Updates

I’m almost finished prepping DEATH IN THE TRAVELING CITY for release. I’m down to the last details, tweaking the jacket blurb, stuff like that. I had a peek at its cover earlier this week; it’s looking good, and it’s not even finish yet. I must say, Michelle did a great job at capturing the spirit of the story. I’m very excited about it! :) If all goes well, the book should be available by mid June. Yay!

On a different note; I saw Thor the other day. It was entertaining enough, the typical popcorn summer movie. Apparently, there is a snippet after the credits (which I missed, boohoo) that plays into the larger Avengers story that’s coming soon. Guess I’ll see it when the film comes out on DVD.

I plan to go see Priest next, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope that it’s going to be good. Would love to be proven wrong, though.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Juggling work

As some of you already know, I’ve been juggling work projects for the past two months. Well, I’m glad to say I’m almost done with that nonsense. Several projects are now either completed or nearly completed. I finished formatting Death in the Traveling City. All I need now is its new cover, and then I’ll be able to upload it on Amazon kindle. That’s so exciting; plus one less thing to deal with. Also, I’m just about done with the first round of edits for my funny SF. Despite all this back and forth between manuscripts, and the dogs—the girls needed to learn the house’s rules, so some of my time was spent on that—I still managed to add twenty pages to my vampire novel. It’s not bad, but, honestly, I can’t wait to be able to give my entire attention to this novel. It’s gonna be soon I hope.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Meet the girls

Kate and Allie are two three-year-old Scottish terriers. They joined our family Sunday and are slowly adapting to life with us. Needless to say, Andre and I are already completely ga-ga over them. :)

When we got them, the girls were sporting a more “au naturel” look.

But thanks to expert groomer Ginger, they are now looking like true Scotties.

Sadly, they haven’t learned the art of posing yet, so the pictures are not the best.




Right now they are both sleeping on the bear rug in my office. So freaking cute!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Green Lantern Wonder-Con Footage Trailer 2011 HD



Oh my God, check out this trailer for Green Lantern. It’s AWESOME!
http://bit.ly/9MoYp7

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The new Jane Eyre movie

Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books, so I was eagerly anticipating the most recent film adaptation, especially as the trailer looked rather promising. Unfortunately, this movie is in limited release and won’t be playing in my area. Bummer. Guess I'll have to wait for the DVD. I am not happy about that! :(

Friday, March 25, 2011

Making Progress

The first draft of BV, my vampire novel, is coming along. Today, I’ve just passed the 100-page mark—YAY! Although it’s not really a third of the novel, (I never know how long my books are going to be until they’re finished.) it’s nice to see that three-digit number at the top of the page—it’s a small victory of sorts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Routine

After two weeks of fighting the flu, I may just now have a handle on it! Instead of coughing all the time, I’m only coughing half the time. Hurray! I’m finally feeling good enough to go back to my good old routine of daily writing followed by an hour-long walk. The only changes to my routine are my new sneakers: they’re high performance toning shoes, and they’re kicking my butt. :/

Friday, March 18, 2011

Progress

Despite being sick with the flu, I still managed to do a bit of work this week. My new vampire novel, let’s call it BV for now, is progressing nicely. I do have to say that getting back into the story was relatively easy. Yay for that! Also, I’ve sent out SPECIAL DELIVERY, a science fiction adventure, to one of my beta readers for comments. Once I receive the input from the beta reader I'll be giving the book one last read and tweaking, and then hopefully it will be good to go.

Monday, March 7, 2011

As Filhas Do Rei

Great news, the Portuguese version of The King’s DaughtersAs Filhas do Rei—is out! Yay! The publisher is Saida de Emergencia, who previously published the first book of the Amir series as part of their T.E.E.N. collection. This one, however, seemed to have been released for the mainstream market. I wonder if it’s because of the sex scene….

Also, for those of you who don’t know, both The Princes of the Golden Cage and The King’s Daughters are now available on the Kindle—those links will take you to their respective pages on Amazon.com. :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

My new workspace

My office used to be the dreariest of places. Seriously. It had wood paneling everywhere, even on the ceiling. Quite frankly, the only inspiration I ever got from the place was to leave it…fast. Well, not anymore. As promised, here are the before-and-after pictures of my office.




















Fancy, hey!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Whirlwind

After a six-month hiatus from writing, which I spent renovating my office, working outside the house, reading, and cooking; (The latter, I must confess, has had a slightly negative effect on my waistline.) I’m now back on the horse, so to speak, and, sure enough, I immediately find myself stuck in a whirlwind. I have way too much to do at the same time. I have two novels to prep for market, one at the polish stage, and a fourth in midstream. Well, good thing my office is looking pretty now, because I’m going to spend a lot of time in it. Next, I’ll post the before-and-after pictures…of my office, of course, not of my ever-expanding figure. Prepare to be amazed.