Follow your heart. You never know where it might lead you.
Jirra’s on the run, Siena’s rescuing her lover, Toreni wants Master Chef status and Chet wants her reputation back. Four women, four goals, and one very small ship. Add a fleet request to free a rebel, the promise of little to no help and a caste-defined society simmering with discontent on the edge of explosion.
Now, on their own, they’re staging an escape from a backwater prison planet and navigating the murky terrain of dreams forbidden by the rigid caste system underpinning their culture. Success demands more than team work. They’ll have to jettison their own prejudices and forge relationships free of the rules and caste lines.
There’s more than just lives at stake. There’s dreams and a possible tomorrow more fragile than gossamer.
Buy the book at https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id836904208 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IV5G3UC
One of my favorite joys as a professor is writing a student a wonderful letter of recommendation. That’s one of the surprises for which no one prepares you. I love the moments when a hard-working (we hope) student walks through my office door and asks politely and hesitantly, “Do you think you could write me a letter of recommendation?”
I smile and nod. “My pleasure.”
And it truly is. I get to work with the next generation of ambitious leaders as they pursue their dream jobs, and there is little else that gives me the satisfaction of being able to help them achieve that. And not just through classroom lessons, but through that essential reference, the teacher communicating with a future employer and saying, “You’ve got a great candidate here.”
My first novel, Rabbit in Red, releases on September 29. I wake up every morning and pinch myself. “Is this really happening?” But it’s terrifying, too. I ask myself, “Do I need this? Do I really want this?” People are going to see the inside of my head! There will be critics—oh, so many critics! Can I handle all of that?
One of my college classes. I’m in the back with the maroon shirt. This is my dream job!
Yes. The answer is yes because I think of the smile on a student’s face after they read the rave review I had written for them. I’ve worked hard to be in a position where I am lucky to help others get to where they want to be. I’m lucky to already have my dream job. But I made the decision to never stop developing and chasing new dreams. I set a goal to be a published author, and now it’s happening. I hope for success, of course, but I have to ask: “Why do I want to be successful as an author?” It’s not ego or pride, is it?
No, it’s more than that.
I dream not (just) of being on a bestseller list (although of course I’d be thrilled!). I dream of a day when I can help other writers and artists accomplish their dreams. Isn’t that what would be the absolute coolest thing about being J.K. Rowling or Stephen King? They could get on a Twitter account any hour of any day and make someone a bestseller with a single tweet. Can you imagine?
Oh, I’m sure it’s a terrible pressure, too. But what a beautiful gift.
That’s also why I’ve fallen in love with my publishing home at Distinguished Press. We fight for ourselves, sure, but we’re also fighting for one another. I’ve told my students that when we collaborate with others, when we strive to help others, then we also help ourselves.
If we fight for the success of others, then we, too, will find success.
One day I hope that I possess the beautiful gift of recommending an artist to the world and consequently am able to help that artist achieve all of his or her dreams. THAT is my dream.
Fan art for Rabbit in Red, which releases on September 29!
I’ll look back on all the enthusiastic people that have always been my side, and I’ll do anything I can to help them out.
That’s why I want to be successful. That’s why I fight to share my first book with the world and hope to share a dozen more.
I’ll hope you be with me as I take my first steps as a published author.
About the author: Joe Chianakas, 36, teaches communication at Illinois Central College. His first published novel, Rabbit in Red, releases on September 29. Like him on Facebook here, and follow him on Twitter for the latest exciting news!
I got the chance to get a little crazy with author Sarah Jayne Carr and this is what happens when we’re both lacking caffeine or sleep… or both. She’s an awesome chick, a fantastic author, and a good friend of mine. Give it up for the sensational Sarah!
Sarah Jayne Carr is a novelist who can be found most evenings with a cup of tea in-hand and her imagination racing from plot to plot. When away from her work, part of her mind is constantly brainstorming her next story and she always has writing paraphernalia within reach.
She wrote stories as a child, but became more serious about her passion during her twenties. In her spare time, she likes to read, splash in mud puddles, smell bookstores and eat Honeycrisp apples. Yearly, she participates in NaNoWriMo and has mentored others through the program. Due to her dedication to National Novel Writing Month, she is part of an amazing writing group.
Born and raised in Washington State, Sarah still resides in the area. Her life is richly filled with her supportive, yet swashbuckling husband and their golden Nugget.
Sarah Jayne Carr
Tell me something you want people to know about you: I have an abnormally long tongue. Oh? Not a fact that random? I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and I’m a six-time champion. My muse wears the diamond-crusted medals to prove it. It’s too bad she lives inside my imagination; the value decreases drastically when compared to tangible diamond-crusted medals. 😉 My NaNo stories from 2005 and 2009 have been published: Revealing Hamilton and Embracing Hamilton.
Tell us how you live or walk us through a normal day for you: How do I live? Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. 😉
A day only feels “normal” to me if I’m able to squeeze in time to write. If I don’t write, I feel “off”. My schedule differs each day, so it includes juggling…chainsaws. A lot of chainsaws.
Are you a full-time writer? If not, tell us about your day job: Oh, to dream! By day, I work in radiology billing. By night, I’m a novelist (that’s when I put on the spandex and the cape). Watch out, Washington. Kidding. My day job is very number-oriented–much different from the writing world. In a sense, I achieve a balance this way and that allows the world to remain on its axis. You’re welcome.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? The “theme” of my stories doesn’t manifest until after I’ve written them. I don’t go into a story with an elaborately mapped out plan for what the reader should come away with. I go into a story thinking about how I can punish Amelia. Then, I think about what can make her life ten times worse. It’s sad, but true. In all honesty, reading is a personal experience and everyone interprets messages and envisions characters/scenery within stories in their own way. If I asked you to imagine a fire-eating clown juggling miniature unicorns while singing Spanish opera, I’ll bet they’d all appear differently. (When I’m sleepy, I become random. Yes, I’m tired. How could you tell?) Readers have all led different lives with different experiences. With that said, they may pull different “messages” from my stories so I don’t aim to pinpoint a certain one as I’m writing.
How much of the book is based off personal experiences? Within my stories, there are many real-life experiences woven throughout the pages. I’m usually pretty quiet regarding which parts are reality and which parts are pure fiction. One instance of a personal experience? Within the pages of Embracing Hamilton, there’s a morgue scene. For the sake of research, I visited a morgue. I needed to see/smell/hear/touch (not taste, that would just be wrong) everything to write the scene accurately. From the metallic sound of the garbage disposal to the salty smell of the body cooler (yes, there were bodies within), I was able to put Amelia in the necessary situation.
What are your current projects? I’m working on the third full-length novel in the JackRabbit7 series. It’s called Hunting Hamilton. Additionally, I’m working on the third JackRabbit7 prequel. It’s called Concealing Torres. I have a few other stories marinating inside my head—not JackRabbit7-related. Whenever those characters try to emerge, Amelia puts them in a headlock and knees them in the face. Right now, she’s still in the spotlight and isn’t ready to give it up yet.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? My cousins and I used to write short stories when we were kids. Throughout my teenage years, I didn’t give writing a second thought (outside of school). When I hit my mid-twenties, I was wandering around a local bookstore. Unable to find the book I wanted to read, I realized it hadn’t been written yet. However, I wasn’t sure where to begin. Shortly thereafter, I learned of a program called National Novel Writing Month. I heard marvelous stories of people who wrote 50,000-words in a month. I wanted to be one of those people and I made it happen. The rest is history.
Do you ever experience writer’s block and how do you overcome it? Pffft. I eat writer’s block for breakfast. Two lumps of sugar and cream, please. Okay, the real answer is…<pause for dramatic effect> I don’t believe in writer’s block. If there’s a block, something is wrong with the story. In these times, I treat these “hurdles” like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story. If there’s a stumbling block in front of Amelia that I can’t figure out, I try to take a detour with the scene. It works. In the past, I’ve also tried writing the scene from the perspective of a supporting character. It’s helped too. To date, I haven’t had to use my flare gun to signal for help so I must be doing something right for my muse.
What project are you working on now? Is this déjà vu from three questions ago? You know I’m going to be snarky. Right now? I’m working on this interview. What are you working on right now? 😉 Coey: Nothing… 🙁
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? Write. Everyday. If you wait for inspiration to strike, you’ll be waiting a long time. The more you practice the craft, the deeper you’ll be involved with your characters.
Before we get to the crazy questions, check out the trailer for Revealing Hamilton by Sarah Jayne Carr.
Sarah, The Zombie Apocalypse is a scientific possibility. What’s your plan when it happens? I’m headed to the cemetery with mallet to play Whack-A-Mole.
If you wrong someone, how do you apologize? With a singing telegram, of course. By the way, Coey? I’m sorry I stole your unicorn. Make sure you’re home tomorrow between 11 and 2. A man in a lobster suit is going to stop by and sing a rousing rendition of Crossfade’s “Cold” to you. Creepy, isn’t it? Coey: You always know exactly the right thing to give a person. 🙂
If you get cheated by the Better Business Bureau, who do you complain to? There’s no need to work my way any higher up the chain. Instead, I’ll just write them into my next novel. Then, there aren’t any repercussions for my actions. <insert maniacal laugh here> Coey: If you insist…
If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how will anyone ever know? No one will…except for Merriam-Webster. As I hop in my time machine, I envision Noah Webster, George Merriam, and Charles Merriam sitting back in leather armchairs. The setting is an office with oak furniture and crushed red velvet curtains. It’s late in the evening. They’re smoking cigars and laughing as they screw with the population by altering snippets of dictionary. Did I mention they’ve had too much to drink? I can’t see this ending well…
If you were stranded in the remote wilderness would you eat one of your dead traveling companions to survive? Is one of my dead traveling companions a cow livestock? If so, bring it on.
Would you volunteer to be one of the first colonists on Mars if it meant you could never return to earth? I need clarification here. Are we talking about Mars (the planet) or Mars (the candy bar)? Right now, I’m distracted as I think about chocolate so I’m willing to take you up on your offer of caramel and nougat.
If it is after midnight and you do not want to go home yet, where do you go? Coey, you’re so funny! I have a two-year old. I turn into a pumpkin at midnight. Then, I can’t fit through the door, I spend the night out in the cold, and I get cranky. No one likes a cranky Sarah.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I understand you’re an author, so I’m going to forgive your Internet browser history.
I swallowed and shook my head as tears slid down my cheeks. “Dane, don’t.” I gulped. “Gasoline. He has a gun. Matches.” —Engaging Kennewick
Molly Kennewick is involved in a long-distance relationship with a secretive IA employee named Dane Pascall. A prior breakup gone wrong with a resident bad boy leaves a bad taste in Molly’s mouth and also leaves her on edge. A significant amount of time has passed since Axel vanished from her life, but he’s been reminding her of his presence in peculiar ways. A weekend getaway is what Molly believes she needs to clear her head, but history is waiting with bated breath to repeat itself. Can Molly resolve her past and present before her future goes up in flames?
Many of my short stories are nonfiction and inspirational tales. Therefore, I rarely submit pieces for anthologies announced online or through writer’s societies because their editors are usually looking for fictional short stories or poetry. Recently, a random invite happened; someone offered to add one of my stories or essays to their anthology helping Newton, Connecticut. I heard about the massacre in their elementary school and submitted a story that I coauthored. However, the editors rejected my entry because they were compiling adult reading level stories about how it might feel to be a Newton resident.
I appreciated the editors’ candor. However, I was amazed the compilers of that anthology didn’t realize what the children (and adults) of Sandy Hook Elementary might really need to go forward. I thought that town might enjoy rhetoric from kindred spirits. Due to fears and anxieties, I felt that those kids and folks might feel less alienated and alone if they were shown the light at the end of their tunnels. I wanted to find a way to be empower those children while revealing to them a HOPE that things can and do get better. I felt bystanders including health care professionals might enjoy those types of stories, too. After pondering the anthology rejection, I woke up one day as God illuminated my next step. Thinking of three books that I had partial copyrights to, I immediately had the title of an anthology in my mind. I began compiling that book.
By the way, the S.H.E. Anthology is NOT a romance anthology but it was written by all females. In this book, most of the girls recollect traumas, mostly related to death, that they faced while in elementary school. Their stories reveal their path out of mourning along with many minor miracles that they encountered. Their tales of hope and inspiration are true accounts from those children turned authors.
The abbreviation ‘S.H.E’ also refers to Sandy Hook Elementary. Isn’t God the best at setting up coincidences?This book is meant to empower Newton as well as others that read it. Its writers hope that the anthology, also, sheds some new light on grief recovery in the minds of teachers, mental health professionals, and adults handling major life changes.
Speaking of a child in mourning, there’s great insight into being the victim of death and childhood loss. In fact, Stacey’s saga is an intimate look at a ten year old girl’s personal story about the results of her mother’s cancer death. She, also, deals with the aftermath that includes her dad going crazy and committing suicide. Obviously, tragedies, such as the Sandy Hook Massacre, touch home with her. In her book contained in the anthology, the young girl talks candidly and inspirationally about surmounting her PTSD. Her honesty through writing is only surpassed by the miracles and guidance from those around her including God. The book excerpt that follows reveals how God taps into this young girl’s anger and grief to show her hope and HIS love as HE answers her naïve, childhood prayer.
Hail, What’s Next?
Later in another conversation, Cindy told me, “There are a ton of reasons why you need to live. First, you haven’t even seen all the world has to share with you. There are some really beautiful places left to visit.”
“I get two weeks’ vacation in December. We can drive into the mountains and find snow for the holidays.”
Jenny (Cindy’s child) was hospitalized after repeated infections. Her tonsils needed to be removed, and the promised trip was postponed.
“I wish it would snow here!” My response arrived.
“Get real! It rarely snows in Central Florida. If it does, it falls in January and never hits the ground. It melts on the way. It sometimes falls just north of us and stays a few hours but nothing close to snowman weather. We can drive to see snow next winter, but we are not flying anywhere this vacation.”
“I’m going to pray for snow within driving distance of our house. I am going to ask for it now,” My style less angry these days converted to belligerent.
“Pray away! But, it isn’t possible,” She added as the other car passengers giggled. At age seven and nine, they realized I could be unreasonable at times.
The next day, the front page of the local newspaper pictured the hail storm that happened just south of our home. Hail stones piled into drifts so high that it appeared to have snowed in Florida….
Since Stacey didn’t see that version of snow in person, she kept praying for snow. What happened next? You guessed right- more Florida snow in the form of hail and many more miraculous events as God honored the orphan.
Also, in the anthology, the Evans Terrace girls give their account of what happened when 7 or more parents died within a year or 2 of each other in a small subdivision of about 110 homes. People started saying their land was CURSED. The children heard those rumors about their subdivision and were scared to death. Then, when a neighbor lost her dad to a blood clot after surgery, the kids felt the need to help. When one of the girls heard the rumor that the mourning family ran out of milk, she setup a traditional solution or proverbial lemonade stand. That day, other angels or young children arrived; many of those neighbor kids ran door to door selling half glasses of hot lemonade. They raised enough quarters to buy milk and other perishables.
More importantly, they formed a group that became a club and led their neighborhood out of grief. Find out how by reading their full story. In the following except, the girls know no limits to miracles and continue their community service buying beds for two, orphaned toddlers that come to live with their aunt.
‘Tis The Season
One of the boys was just two weeks old and the other was eighteen-month-old when their single mother died in her apartment of an epileptic seizure. These two miracles survived two days with their deceased mother before authorities found them. Their aunt’s family was not well to do but had inherited two cribs for the boys. However, just near Christmas, they needed real beds for these toddlers.
There were donations of new jewelry and Christmas items to raffle. We charged a dollar a ticket. On our little table sat our flyer of community services completed and goals to finish this year.
As one guest read the document, she handed us a five-dollar bill whispering to my mother, “What is their goal?”
“At least one bed,” She responded.
“Well, good luck. They probably won’t even raise enough for a mattress,” this woman added.
“I’ve seen them sell one hundred and seventy one dollars’ worth of lemonade and still have over half the original gallon. I bet they can get this bed,” My mother defended.
“Good luck,” The guest reiterated.
“I believe in miracles,” Mom observed smugly. “ ‘Tis the season!”
The stranger stopped our movement back to our vehicles, “I’ll let you have both beds for two hundred dollars but only if you can pick them up by tomorrow.”
“Sold!” We all screamed as Laura and Mom flinched. The club was sixty dollars from reality.
Did the girls find the cash? Of course! What other minor miracles happened when these angels joined forces with others to make wishes come true? The story gets even more fascinating when these human angles (the girls) meet the young boys that shared days with real angels before authorities found them in their apartment with their dead mother.
You should read more inspirational, side stories in the S.H.E. Anthology; it’s available as a book and eBook through AMAZON, Kindle, and SMASHWORDS. See my profile for more details on how to find books I write, co-author, produce, or compile.
By the way, the compilation’s royalties will help charities involved in grief counseling or with mental health issues- especially for children therapies for the types of traumas witnessing massacres produce. For example, one local group ‘New Hope for Kids’ (Orlando) will get some of the profits from this compilation because the group that started this organization helped Stacey over 20 years ago.
This blogger’s main author page is @ WEEBLY, you can find many nonfiction uplifting books there.
AMAZON author site http://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-Cynthia-Meyers-Hanson/e/B00B28J7L2
For those of you who don’t know me, I spend a lot of time on Google Plus. I love the relationships, news and information I’ve encountered there. Being on there, I have been informed, enlightened and surprised. At times that surprise isn’t a good thing. It was through google plus that I first learned about the SOPA, PIPA and ACTA bills. All of them have a ‘stop piracy’ lean to them, but they do so at the cost of censoring the internet and invading privacy of the individual. Today, I got a great surprise.
Thanks to the efforts of a handful of incredible people. (Moan Lisa, Shauna Myers, Giuseppe Russo, Gianmario Scotti) I have learned about an effort to support, feature and encourage an open market by supporting the independent authors, artists and musicians around the world. The goal of Black March is to show the major individuals that influence how and where we purchase our entertainment, that we won’t tolerate their pushing the little guy out of the picture. I think this is a fantastic movement and I know I’m personally committing to the supporting Black March.
The best way to show your support for this movement is to purchase your entertainment this month from Independent Artists in all areas of entertainment. Take a moment and read a new author, support a new musician, and share your experiences with the world.
Hard to believe it’s the week leading up to Christmas, and that Hanukkah starts tonight. Here at West of Mars, it doesn’t feel very December-like. The weather’s been ping-ponging between temperatures in the 50s and in the 30s. The 30s are what’s normal.
I guess we’re lucky.
I mean, we could be flooded out, like the people in the Philippines. Or dealing with radiation, like the people in Japan. Afraid of war, like most of the world. Oh, wait. We probably are afraid of war. Terrorism and all.
Yep. Like I said, moribund.
It’s the holiday season, though. No one should be down in the dumps this time of year. Yet, we are. There are so many pressures: gifts, cookies, travel, family.
This is why we writers do what we do. We provide you with escape — but we also provide it for ourselves. Sitting down and staring at a computer screen is transportation, teleportation. It’s a gateway into another world.
It sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. When I can escape into a fictional place for awhile, facing real life doesn’t seem so insurmountable. If I didn’t make enough of the good cookies (or too many of the ones no one likes), if the turnpike’s backed up for ten minutes at the toll booth… none of it matters when I can throw my characters into the scene and let them deal with it.
That’s our gift to our readers. Real, live, breathing characters. Books that feature people and situations you can relate to.
Your gift to us, dear reader, comes in the form of royalties, excitement, e-mails asking when our next book is coming out. It comes when you hand our books to your friends with that particular statement: “You have got to read this!”
Best of all, these are gifts that we give each other year-round. We don’t need to wait for a certain season and its stresses. We don’t even need a real reason, other than passion — to create, to read, to share.
So enjoy the cookies and the gifts and the travel and the family. Let all their stresses melt away. Because before you go to bed this holiday season, you will have the time to curl up with a good book. And us, the writers, we’ll make the time to jot some words down, to envision a scene, to move the tiniest bit closer to bringing you another finished form of escape.
Happiness sometimes comes from small places. A book. A scene. A character.
Don’t let the holidays get you down. Let the holidays be your reason to read.
Need a last-minute gift? Books make the perfect gift, this week and every week!
As I’m finishing my first book and a number of supplemental stories, I’m hearing a lot about this. Some readers can’t get passed the first page because it is written in present tense, while others have been draw in to the point of distraction. Obviously this has had me reflecting on the books I’ve read as well. It’s left me with the question: What tense do most find appealing? To resolve this curiosity, I conducted informal interviews with many avid readers about the topic. I’ve included information from 3 of the lengthier conversations I had.