Discussing Life Is Strange Part I

Today’s post is going to be a combo of fangirl rambling, story analysis, and prediction. Typically, I don’t talk too much about one of my many passions outside of reading and writing fiction, but I’m making an exception for Life Is Strange because I believe it is very relevant to my work and to YA fiction as a whole. I’m a huge fan of video games, and currently, I’m obsessed with an episodic game called Life Is Strange. This game is in an episode format in which they release one of 4-6 parts of the the game every couple of months (sounds like the book trend that is popular right now, doesn’t it?), and the skill level is less traditional and more choice/prompt based, using action commands and selecting options.

 

So, even if you don’t usually care for games, this one is almost like an interactive choose your own adventure novel… except it’s not a book. How Life is Strange (LIS) pertains to my work and this blog, is that it most certainly falls into the YA category, despite some of the more serious themes, and story-wise, I would say it is sort of like a young adult, sci-fi version of the show Twin Peaks (though some have also compared it to Donnie Darko). In addition to that, both LIS and Twin Peaks (as well as Harper’s Island and old school Buffy) are somewhat inspiring one of my next novels. The book isn’t titled, yet, so I can’t give you more than that, but I promise to be more detailed in a different and later post.

LIS2

Anyway, the story in Life Is Strange is about Max, a teen at a prestigious art school for her senior year of class, waking up to find that she has the power to rewind time. She first uses this power to save a girl from being shot and killed by a classmate, and she eventually tries to help her friend discover what happened to a missing local girl. For anyone who knows nothing about Life Is Strange, I suggest playing it and/or watching a Youtube gamer play (Cryaotic is a pretty good one). I’ve done both (watched and played for myself), and it helps because you can see how different choices impact the story. Some choices have life-altering consequences for characters within the game. I suggest doing one or the other because if you haven’t watched or played the game, none of this post will make sense to you. Also, as a reminder, there absolutely will be SPOILERS in this post. TONS of them. So, if you haven’t played through all four of the currently available episodes, don’t be mad at me when I spoil stuff.

WARNING: LIFE IS STRANGE SPOILERS AHEAD!!

 

LIS

So, as I wait impatiently for the fifth episode to arrive, I have read lot of discussions (and had some of my own) about the “shocking” end of episode 4 and theories for the concluding episode. I thought I’d share my own thoughts but also try to work out some interesting ideas in the process. First, there are a few things that I’m completely convinced of:

 

1. Rachel is truly dead (probably in any timeline). I know people are still holding onto the hope that maybe Max and Chloe are mistaken and it’s actually Nathan in the ground, but there’s no way. It’s her. I’m almost positive I saw Max open the plastic a little, which is why they recoiled from the smell later than when they had just uncovered her. This is when Chloe starts to freak out worse. It’s Rachel. There’s no way Chloe would leave without being 100% sure of this.

LIS6

 

2. Chloe was in love with Rachel. Some people are still arguing that they were just friends… but I will never believe that. I’d probably still deny it, even if the developers outright said it (which they have specifically mentioned it purposely being ambiguous). There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Chloe is actually bi (her room and some of her comments are probably the most obvious), but I don’t know if that matters. The point is really about the deep caring for someone else and how tragedies, choices, and emotions created by these relationships built on love and loyalty (friend-wise or romantically) effect life. Chloe’s reaction to Rachel’s death (both seeing her body and the manner in which she is hunting for revenge) is consistent with someone who was truly IN LOVE with that person. Even though she literally said the words “I LOVED HER” (twice!), some people are still taking this as “I loved her as my best friend and/or sister.” She also called her “my angel” in episode 1, and many times, she acted incredibly jealous about certain Amber-related things (Frank for instance). I’m not sure why people are in denial about this, but they are. I think the fact that she was truly in love with Rachel makes Chloe’s reactions and heartbreak that much sadder and beautiful. The scene when they find Rachel gets me. Every. Freaking. Time. LIS5

 

3. In Episode 5, Max is going to have to jump through one or more of the pictures of herself. This one is really obvious, mostly because of how insistent Warren was about having a picture with her. But, that aside, there are other indicators of this idea: the double moons, the whole monolog from bad-guy teacher-man at the beginning, and there have been several times where Max has taken selfies: in class, the one one the bed with Chloe, the very obvious one with Warren. There were allegedly a couple of other times the option was given, but the above three are the important ones. Hopefully, she’ll use one of these to make things right, but I have had a theory for a while now that the original first scene of her waking up from her “vision” of the tornado was actually her coming back from the future. The best option, of course, would be the go back to the Warren picture, but that seems way too easy. I have a feeling that the developers had intended for Max to go back through the first picture and let Chloe die, but now I’m convinced they changed their minds based on the fan outrage it would cause (which is a plus side to having episodic games like this).

LIS1

 

Okay, that’s enough rambling. Apologies for how long this was! But there is one last thing to mention. Who do I ship? Chloe/Max or Max/Warren? Easy answer: Chloe/Max. I’ll spare you the long answer, but it involves the fact that I really like Warren because he’s cute, sweet, protective, funny, dorky, etc. And he is crushing so hard on Max. I wish he could have her because it would be nice to see him get what he wants. But my fangirl-ness (and play through) are shipping Chloe and Max so hard… which is why Chloe must live so she and Max can be together. FOREVER.

 

Thanks for checking out Discussing Life Is Strange I! Next time, I’ll be talking about some specific theories and ideas I have. Tune in for that by visiting Discussing  Life Is Strange II next week!

Fated Soul Giveaway

To celebrate the print version of Fated Soul, I thought it would be fun to have a giveaway.  You can enter by heading over to Goodreads and clicking the big button that says Enter. Pretty simple, right? It really is! Here are some pictures of the printed book. The cover turned out so pretty in the matte finish. After the pictures, you can see the giveaway details.

 

frontPrintPic insidePrintPic backPrintPic

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fated Soul by N.R. Wick

Fated Soul

by N.R. Wick

Giveaway ends August 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

New Release: Fated Soul

Today is the last day to purchase Fated Soul at 99¢!

Tomorrow, August 16th, it will return to it’s normal price of $2.99. So this is your last chance to get it for this price! In the meantime, Fated Soul is being featured in the New Releases at Free Kindle Books & Tips.

Fated Soul is a young adult paranormal romance, but don’t let that fool you. It definitely has a dark side to it. For a limited time only, you can get this book for 99¢!

 

Fated Soul Book CoverFated Soul

Fated Soul for Kindle US | Fated Soul for Kindle UK

Adelaide has the power to save Trent from death, but messing with fate has dangerous consequences.

As an Exanimus, Adelaide’s job is to take care of the sands of fate and collect souls immediately after death. She loves her work and misses being a living, breathing teenaged girl, but the Exanimus Code restricts her from having individuality and empathizing with the souls she collects. When a mysterious, glowing hourglass appears in her possession, Adelaide can’t help but investigate the anomaly: a surfer named Trent.

Observing Trent in the days leading up to his death makes it impossible to watch him die. So Adelaide does the unthinkable and flips his hourglass, extending his life. In doing so, she brings a terrible imbalance to the world and becomes a key player in a covert revolution. When forced into hiding, she meets Trent and begins to fall for him, which makes it hard to choose between keeping him alive or repairing the damage she has caused. Will she choose what’s best for the greater good or lose love forever?

 

**The limited time offer of 99¢ is only good through August 15, 2015. After that, the price will return to its normal $2.99.**

New Short Story Release: The Hat Man Club

So, I have extremely exciting news about Fated Soul: it has an official release date! August 1st, you will have access to this new dark paranormal romance! It should be available for preorder within the next week at a special discount of 99¢! In the mean time, I recently published a short Tween/Teen horror story, The Hat Man Club, which I totally forgot to announce. Jeez, I’ve been spacey. But it is one of a couple of short horrors I’ve written lately unrelated to the Dark Ascension Series. See information on it below.

hatManClub800The Hat Man Club

+Get The Hat Man Club for Kindle
+Get The Hat Man Club for Nook
+Get The Hat Man Club for iPad

Tori is being haunted by a shadowy figure she calls The Hat Man. While she normally plays it off as a sleep-induced hallucination, on Halloween night, he stalks her while she trick-or-treats with her best friends, Stacy, Erin, and Dawn. A sugar-filled sleepover turns into a terrifying horror story as Tori discovers the sinister truth about The Hat Man.

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal: Fated Soul

I know I showed you all the process for the Fated Soul (book 1 in The Hourglass Chronicles) cover, but I never showed you the final cover. On top of that, the working book blurb is finished. This dark(ish) paranormal romance is months away from being published. I think you all are really going to enjoy it. After that, I’ll be working on a special little something that I know a lot of people have been asking me for. Think along the lines of Rebecca + Fox. Very exciting! So, without further ado, here is Fated Soul.

 

Fated Soul CoverFated Soul

Coming Summer 2015!

Adelaide has the power to save Trent from death, but messing with fate has dangerous consequences.

As an Exanimus, Adelaide’s job is to look after the sands of fate and collect souls immediately after death. She loves her work but misses being a living, breathing teenaged girl. The Exanimus Code restricts her from empathizing and interacting with the souls she collects, and the fear of punishment keeps her on a strict schedule. When a mysterious, glowing hourglass appears in her possession, Adelaide can’t help but investigate the anomaly: a surfer named Trent.

Observing Trent in the days leading up to his death made it impossible to watch him die. So Adelaide does the unthinkable and flips his hourglass, extending his life. In doing so, she brings a terrible imbalance to the world and becomes the symbol of a covert rebellion. When forced into hiding, she meets Trent and begins to fall for him, making it impossible to choose between keeping him alive or setting back the balance. Will she choose what’s best for the greater good or lose her love forever?

 

Fated Soul is the first book in The Hourglass Chronicles.

 

The Afterlife of Rebecca Ashford (TAORA) – Scavengers

The Afterlife of Rebecca Ashford (TAORA) is a blog post series about Rebecca, the main character in the Dark Ascension series by N.R. Wick. Rebecca is the main character in the Dark Ascension series. These posts are short stories (flash fiction), usually with drawings, sketches, paintings, etc. of things that Rebecca might have seen during the Dark Ascension series. All TAORA posts will be in Rebecca’s point of view and voice. Enjoy!

*****

I’m Rebecca Ashford, and this is my afterlife.

After the Ascension, it wasn’t long before the Scavengers lurked through the little town Errol and I lived in. Once most of our friends and neighbors had been slaughtered, the smell of death lured these gnarly beasts to the bodies. For the most part, Scavengers ate dead flesh. Their eyes are huge, but they can only see movement, which makes them poor hunters, so they rely on smell and things that are easy to come by like corpses.

 

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One of the days that Errol and I ventured out of our tornado bunker to salvage any canned goods around the neighborhood, we saw a Scavenger carcass in the street. Its gut had been ripped open and looked like it had been partially eaten. An arrow protruded from the center of its head between the bulbous, milky eyes.

It brought us pleasure to know that someone was able to fend it off, but the victory must have been short lived since we found that person dead inside the crumbling house across the street with a bow and arrow still clutched in her hands. Well, we found half of her anyway. It reeked like rotting garbage, and the pool and smear of blood had turned black.

Her upper half had been shredded, probably by the curved claws of the Scavenger pack. Something must have spooked them, though, because they had left their meal half eaten. Whatever it was, we didn’t wait around to find out. Nothing good comes from investigating the cause of death here in the Shadowlands… or anywhere else, I’m sure.

 

99 Cent Book Blast

99tc
 

Over 175 ebooks from over 150 authors–including USA Today Bestsellers–are on sale for 99 cents.

This promo will last only April 10th, 11th, and 12th.

Find paranormal, fantasy, romance, and much more.

Don’t forget to tell your friends so they can one-click too!

Visit the 99 Cent Book Blast.

 

 

Land of No MortalsLand of No Mortals can be found here, too! For this weekend only, you can get Land of No Mortals for 99¢!

Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Ashford and her younger sister Errol have finally found safe refuge at Crown Haven, a witch-led survivor colony. Rebecca should be thrilled by the secure place to live and the human contact after spending a year hiding in their family tornado bunker, but ever since her friend, Fox, left she’s been plagued by guilt strong enough to mess with her newfound witch powers.

When demons destroy Crown Haven, Rebecca uses her power to locate the only person who may know how to fight back. Instead, she discovers that Fox is in danger. She and Errol must rescue him and enlist his help in their quest to learn what caused the demon apocalypse and find a way to take back their world. As Rebecca struggles with her feelings for Fox and with controlling her power, she fights to stay alive and defy the demonic oppressors to protect the people she loves.

Land of No Mortals is book 2 of the Dark Ascension Series.

 

The Afterlife of Rebecca Ashford (TAORA) – Shades

This is the first in a series started some time ago called The Afterlife of Rebecca Ashford (TAORA). Rebecca is the main character in the Dark Ascension series. These posts are short stories (flash fiction), usually with drawings, sketches, paintings, etc. of things that Rebecca might have seen during the Dark Ascension series. All TAORA posts will be in Rebecca’s point of view and voice. Enjoy!

*****

My name is Rebecca Ashford, and this is my afterlife.

We saw the Shade that killed Sam today. At least I’m pretty sure it was the same one. They all look alike, but it’s the only one I’ve seen lurking around our street. Sam was the older brother of a boy in Errol’s biology class, and they lived at the end of the street. Seeing the Shade chilled my skin and made my stomach revolt with fear. I can still hear Sam’s screams echo inside my mind.

“God, no! Help me! Please, don’t—Don’t hurt me!” he had screamed. I don’t know what the Shade was doing to him, but gurgling screams followed his pleas, filtering into our tornado bunker from above ground. We stayed inside even after the sounds had stopped; we were too afraid that we would meet the same fate.

Sam was the first dead person I’d ever seen. I’ll never forget the image of him hanging from the tree in a neighbor’s front yard or how his head drooped to the side in an awkward, impossible way. His neck must have broken for it to look like that. I couldn’t begin to guess how long he’d been hanging there, but I’d wondered if he’d killed himself or if the Shade had done it for him. Errol guessed that Sam took his own life and insisted we bring him down.

We worked together to cut the rope and lay his body on the grass. After that, we weren’t sure what to do with him. It was dangerous to have his body out in the open since we lived so close to a group of Scavenger demons, who were most interested in human corpses, but they’d still smell him even if we buried him. Errol suggested we burn the body, but it was too dangerous to have smoke filling the sky so close to our hiding place.

In the end, we wrapped his stiff corpse in a tarp and buried him anyway.

shade

I once asked Fox about Shades, and he said that they had once been humans. What sort of person could become those shadowy demons? I shuttered at the thought of becoming one.

“Can any person become a Shade?” I had asked.

For several moments, he had watched me silently with his intense, blue eyes before answering, almost as if he knew my fear. “No, not as far as my father and I have discovered. Only people who are exceptionally violent or evil have the chance to become a Shade. Even then, they would have to conspire with a demon first.”

Whether what he had said was true or not, I don’t know. It sounded plausible, but I wonder now if he was just trying to make me feel better.

 

The Afterlife of Rebecca Ashford (TAORA) – The Ascension

This is the first in a series started some time ago called The Afterlife of Rebecca Ashford (TAORA). Rebecca is the main character in the Dark Ascension series. These posts are short stories (flash fiction), usually with drawings, sketches, paintings, etc. of things that Rebecca might have seen during the Dark Ascension series. All TAORA posts will be in Rebecca’s point of view and voice. Enjoy!

*****

I’m Rebecca Ashford, and this is my afterlife.

My first life ended the day my parents died and demons ascended from whatever hell they came from. I don’t know if it was the Hell or not, but I do know that creatures poured out of strange black portals in the ground and sky. On the news, Errol and I watched one of the portals open up over New York City. Black vapor and oily, black tendrils spilled from the openings as beasts large and small fell to the ground. The carnage was immediate. It was as if the drop and new setting hadn’t affected them. Clawed and rabid, the creatures slaughtered people in the streets.

TheAfterlifeOfRebeccaAshford1

I drew this a few weeks after the first portal opened above New York City. I’m not sure how many of them appeared, but they disappeared after some time.

Eventually, most news stations stopped showing the New York City maiming. But once everyone had realized that endless monsters were emerging from the portals, some people thought it was too important not to show. Thousands of home videos were posted online, and posted or texted photos went viral. Within a week, the event had been named the Ascension and the monsters identified as demons. This was also when most of the larger cities had fallen.

My family lived in the middle of nowhere, an hour away from the closest city, but we weren’t safe. When the Ascension began, Errol and I spent ages trying to call and text our parents and our grandfather, who lived in a cabin at a lake in Nebraska. Hours had passed before the local news showed cellphone video of a portal opening under Lillian’s, the biggest grocery story in the city and where our parents had gone that morning. Fat tears streaked my face, and I held my sobbing sister while we watched the grainy building break apart and fall in on its self. Beneath the rumbling and snapping, we heard people inside cry muffled screams of pain and terror while bystanders watched in horror. The demon portal swallowed Lillian’s, then the street, then cars from the parking lot. They slid into the glowing black hole, along with our family’s silver Ranger.

Our hometown became overrun with shadow creatures not long after our parents were devoured. Neighbors ran through the streets while little black creatures chased them. It was almost comical until the Scavengers and Scourge showed up. The people no longer fled in fear. Instead, they failed, and the eyeless Scavengers tore them apart. While the demons focused on their prey, Errol and I snuck to our tornado bunker at the back of our house. We heard our neighbors’ shrieks through the air vents as we held each other in the dark.

 

Cover Reveal: Numbers Game by Rebecca Rode

Today I have a special guest, Rebecca Rodes, with a cover reveal for her next book: Numbers Game. Isn’t it beautiful? Also, the story sounds awesome! It’s coming out in March, so get your buy fingers ready!

NumbersGame

 

Numbers Game by Rebecca Rode
Publication date: March 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult

Synopsis:
Treena can’t wait for Rating Day. Her high score will mean a life of luxury, showing the world that she’s a valuable member of society, not a pathetic waste of space. It won’t hurt her chances with her top-Rated boyfriend, either. But when the big day arrives, her true number shocks everyone.

To get her life—and boyfriend—back, she must go undercover and expose a military spy. Doesn’t sound too hard, except that someone seems to want her dead. And then there’s the mysterious soldier with a haunted past and beautiful brown eyes. Together, they discover a dark numbers conspiracy, one that shatters the nation’s future. They must band together if they are to survive the dangerous game of numbers—and the terrible war that rages within Treena’s heart.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24893016-numbers-game

 

RebeccaAUTHOR BIO:
By day, I’m a busy mom of four who struggles with housecleaning and cooking. By night…well, I’m still a busy mom of four. But scattered into those rare quiet moments is my life’s passion–writing. My first book, HOW TO HAVE PEACE WHEN YOU’RE FALLING TO PIECES, was released in March 2013. It’s a nonfiction quick-fix book for moms whose lives feel as crazy and out of control as mine does–and from what readers are saying, it’s fun and entertaining to read. I also write for Deseret News and KSL.com on occasion, and some of my articles have also appeared in Schooled Magazine. For a sneak peek at the first two chapters of my book, HOW TO HAVE PEACE WHEN YOU’RE FALLING TO PIECES, check it out on Amazon.com. Bye now!

Author links:
https://www.facebook.com/authorrebeccarode
https://twitter.com/@RebeccaRode
http://www.authorrebeccarode.com/

 

Brought to you by: ButtonXBT

Land of No Angels Aftermath

I was going through some of my work from grad school because I am going to apply for a PhD program later this year, and I found a couple of exercises related to Land of No Angels. It was so fun to read some things that didn’t make it into the book and things that I had written to help me understand parts of the book. I thought I would share a few pieces I wrote.

This particular piece was a writing exercise for a class (I believe the prompt originated from a book of writing prompts) and was supposed to be a short scene from the aftermath of Land of No Angels. In case anyone was wondering what prompted Fox to leave Crown Haven, this should explain it! Enjoy the Land of No Angels aftermath.

~~~~~~~~~

Fox slipped into the shadows of the altar room where he knew Errol to be. Even though she had only come out of her spell induced sleep three days ago, Errol had been extremely supportive to Fox in regards to his “little secret.”

“Why would he do this to me? To us?” a voice spat.

Rebecca. Fox had not seen her, let alone spoken to her, since curing Errol. Clearly she was still mad at him. He tiptoed behind the black curtains and maneuvered himself into a spot where he could see and hear them both better.

“I don’t think he meant to to hurt anyone,” Errol answered.

“He must have considering how little my feelings meant to him,” Rebecca said.

“You should talk to him.”

“Never.”

Errol sighed in irritation, “No wonder he kept it from you with how you’re acting about the whole thing.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that you are being seriously ignorant! Don’t you think he feels bad enough?”

“No! No, I don’t think he feels bad enough! Not only is he…” Rebecca struggled with her words for a moment. She glanced from side to side, as though saying it out loud would jinx her somehow, and then whispered, “…a demon, but he also lied about it.”

“He’s only part demon. It’s not the same. Besides, he didn’t exactly lie… he just—didn’t tell you the truth right away.”

Rebecca scoffed. Fox thought for a moment; he wanted so badly to tell her that he should have explained himself the moment he found out. It was wrong not to, but the idea that he was part demon was not exactly an easy thing to cope with, especially during a time of crisis. Besides, was it really the lying that upset her or was it the fact that he had demon in him. It made him potentially dangerous and Rebecca did not like things that were dangerous, especially demons.

“That is the same as lying and you know it,” Rebecca said.

“Oh, come on! How would you feel if you found out you were half demon? I’m sure you wouldn’t go around announcing it to everyone either,” Errol replied.

“I would tell the people I cared about! The people who mattered to me. Besides, when have we met a trustworthy demon?”

“Don’t say that.”

“It’s true. Have we ever? No. Demons hunt us and kill us, or enslave us, but they do not love us, and they do not help take care of us.”

“How—How can you say that about Fox? He likes you. I mean, really likes you, and I know you wouldn’t be this angry if you didn’t like him too.”

Rebecca looked down; her face burned pink. As a few tears dribbled down her face, she said, “I—I can’t.”

“He saved my life. You remember that,” Errol said with vehemence that made Rebecca recoil. “He gave his blood to cure me, and he did it for you. Sure, he might not have wanted to see me die, but it was all for you. Don’t you dare forget that.”

Errol turned away and stormed off without another word. Rebecca sat with her hands in her face, sobbing and confused. Fox watched and forced himself not to try and comfort her. He didn’t want to make things worse, and Rebecca’s words stung him. After he couldn’t stand to hear her anguish any more, Fox slipped around the edge of the shadowed altar room and left unnoticed.

 

The Fated Soul Cover Process

Okay, everyone. I’m just too excited about this cover to keep it hidden anymore. I thought it would be super fun to show you all the Fated Soul cover process. I don’t know if you all know, but in a past life (or more like about five years ago), I was a graphic artist and illustrator. Now, normally, I contract out cover art because I simply don’t have the time for it. Honestly, cover art is my favorite part of publishing. I love buying premades, and I love working with artists on custom work. I’ve learned a lot about working with artists, which will be left for another post.

So, for this particular book, which is sort of a paranormal romance, I did hire an artist. In the end, I just felt that the cover didn’t fit what I wanted. Don’t get my wrong, the artist did a great job. It was more that it didn’t feel right. I’m going to use it for a tie-in story (short or novella), but I just wasn’t satisfied. I got inspired one weekend to design a cover myself. Again, I’ve done it professionally (as well as for some of my other books and stories), so it isn’t like I’m some noob.

FSoriginal

 

At any rate, I thought it would be fun to show the process. There was a lot of work and a lot of layers put into it. Starting off is the background (credited to Sirius_sdz) and the character. The BG is a combo of the same texture twice with some masking overlays. The model looks pretty red compared to the BG, but I’ll fix that later. The model is Ellena Wilcox, who was photographed by Cathleen Tarawhiti. Now, this model is gorgeous, but I did a little work to her, such as touching up the skin, lessening the stark highlights, and adding depth to her make-up and hair. Basically things to make her stand out.

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So, here is the result of that. I brushed in some hair (mostly to cover up the areas that were too difficult to cut out from the original picture). On top of that, I played with the makeup color, too. It’s fairly subtle, so you may have to click on it to make it larger to see. You might have also noticed a small difference in the right arm (our left side).

FSstep2

 

The image I had in my head was of a girl holding an hourglass. She is an Exanimus, a keeper of the hourglasses of life. The story’s catalyst is a golden, glowing hourglass. I found the perfect model, but her arm was covered. It took me hours upon hours to find the right model and then again to find the right arm (credited to Mizzd-stock). With some photoshop magic, I was able to combine them into exactly what I needed.

 

FSstep4

 

And this is why I needed the correct hand/arm. The hourglass is one that I actually own and took photos of. I used a bunch of layers to make it look clear. It’s not as easy as you would think! Honestly, that was one of the more difficult parts of this project. The original hourglass was completely black, so I had to do a some photoshop magic to make it look gold. Also, it didn’t have a chain, and I always imagined the character holding the hourglass by a chain.

FSstep6

 

Notice there is now a chain in there? I had to add that since I didn’t have one of my own nor was there one on the hourglass itself. Basically, I used part of a silver chain (credited to Gothicmamas-stock) and made it gold and shiny. After all of that, I made the rest of the metal glow and gave it a halo effect. There is also some sparkling that is not pictured here, but you can see it in the final version. I even added tiny specks of sand falling because the ones already there were invisible.

 

Put it all together, and you get the final product! Now, some other things not pictured above include the step where I made the model blend in with the environment. Her skin now matches the background, and she feels more in her own space. Also, I changed a few contrast settings and gave the image a dark edge on the bottom. It’s probably not even noticeable, but I also gave her arm and waist a glow.

FSfinal

I do have the typography completed and all of that, but I’m saving that for an official reveal later on when I have a blurb that can go with it. Fated Soul is set to come out in late September or early October, and I’m so excited.

Work in Progress

I thought it would be fun to discuss my current work in progress and share some of the problems and successes I’m having with it. If you are wondering about the project I hinted about before (the one with the mermaids), don’t worry. I’ll be working on that one next. It had to be delayed for this current project because I couldn’t get this one out of my mind. I know, I know. Not the best way to determine what to write and when, but it was one of those stories that just wouldn’t leave me alone. I noticed I write much faster with stories like that.

My current work in progress has a working title of Sands of Fate. In the end, it will have a different title, but I’m the type who needs a title before I can start a project. “Untitled YA Paranormal Romance” just doesn’t cut it for me. That was actually the first place I struggled. Finding the right title is a big deal for me, but a placeholder title works okay for now. (Did you know that Land of No Angels started out as a working title and just happened to become the final version?)

This particular story has a strong theme of breaking free from an oppressive mold to do what is right. It also has a lot to do with death and coming to terms with it. Challenging our role in life and a lot of other things. Sands of Fate is still a paranormal romance, which is a huge change (and challenge) for me, and has a main character from late nineteenth century France who is now living in modern time. This has caused me a lot of headache. This character has watched people from all over the world since her death in 1906. So, she knows about a lot of modern things. How do I balance her original life between her modern one?

Honestly, I’m not sure. It’s tough for me to properly give her a voice. It can’t be a modern one, but how historical should it be? Balancing between a teenager who is out of place, but influenced by, the modern world is the key. I don’t know that I can really use things like having her require a chaperone when being alone around guys. Because of this character’s job, she has been alone around guys plenty of times. Her customs have been diluted by her job, so it wouldn’t make sense to have her insist on them.

One thing I have done is to have her interact with technology. Of course, that’s easy. It’s also fun to write about! On the other hand, there are questions that will come up: how can she understand English (Answer: her job)? If she doesn’t have parents, will people notice (yes, and it gets awkward!)? Will she have to go to school during her time on earth (no…that would be a different story)?  If you can’t tell, this story can get a bit complicated.

The last thing that I’ve had to think about is the character’s name. The idea for this story originated from an ink drawing I did a long time ago. It was of a girl-like creature who carried around an hourglass on a chain. The hourglass represented someone’s life. When I originally drew the picture, I named her Maeva. This is one of the reasons she became a French girl… But I quickly realized that this name wasn’t exactly used during the time in which she was born (1890). So, I went on a hunt for popular names of the time. The two I ended up with are Odette and Adélaïde. And now I can’t decide between the two. What do you all think?

Ebook Escapes Weekend Spotlight

So, Ebook Escapes has me on their Weekend Spotlight today in which I speak about the origin of Land of No Angels. You can also learn 5 fun facts about me, too!  It was really fun reminiscing about the behind the scenes of Land of No Angels. Interestingly enough, I was recently going through old blog posts, trying to find the old Dragon Dictate post, when I stumbled upon a bunch of really great entries I had written while earning my Master’s degree. For those who don’t know, I wrote Land of No Angels as part of my thesis project. Seeing these old posts made me think that my new readers would probably like to see some interesting thoughts and challenges I had while writing the first book in the  Dark Ascension Series. Below, I have linked to several entries that would be worth reading. Also, you should absolutely check out Ebook Escapes Weekend Spotlight. I’m not the only one there, and you might find another great author.

 

Researching the Post Apocalyptic World

Planning for the Apocalypse

What I Learned from the First Draft of My Thesis

Details, Details, Details

 

The interesting thing is that a lot of my thoughts on drafting, outlining, and even revising have changed dramatically since I wrote this book. There are still issues, of course, such as the fact that I still struggle with focus, but I have learned a lot about my own writing and the methods in which I complete the task of storytelling.

Win a Free Kindle Fire

I have some really exciting news! A bunch of awesome authors and I are sponsoring a giveaway, from which you can win a free kindle fire. Isn’t that awesome? So, if you want to win a free kindle fire, then I suggest you read this post and join via the Rafflecoptor at the bottom of this post. Before you go do that, though, you should check out a special guest and author of Soul Taken, Katlyn Duncan.

soulTakenSoul Taken

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After-life just got a lot more complicated

Maggie is a Soul Collector. It’s her job to transport souls from the Living Realm to the After – but during a mission to New England to find a stolen soul, she ends up stuck in a teen mean girl’s body.

Trapped, Maggie’s soul is catapulted into Ally’s life – and the human world she hasn’t experienced for one hundred years. But, as a descendant of the most powerful beings in the After, Maggie must rescue Ally before the girl’s soul dies…

To survive, Maggie must uncover devastating secrets – because with one soul taken by a terrifying enemy, Maggie’s could be next!

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Dragon Dictate Revisited

I’ve spoken about dictation software before in a previous post called Dragon Dictate and No Hands Writing, but I wanted to write an update because I have since upgraded to Dragon Dictate 3. Lately, I’ve been having some nasty pain in my hands and wrists, which are shooting up to about my elbow, so I pulled out my old copy of Dictate and thought I’d download it on my computer (it’s only about a year old). Yes, that’s how long it has been since needing to use Dragon.

Quickly, I discovered that DD2 was not entirely compatible with my current computer, and it was a pain to try to get access to the registration and serial number. So, after searching ebay for about two seconds, I found copies of DD3 were pretty cheap now with 4 just coming out. It was also compatible with my OS. Victory! I bought that like it was TP in the Apocalypse.

For the most part, some of the same issues from my previous review of the product have not changed at all. For example, certain things will NOT correct automatically, no matter how many times I try. In my current WIP, my MC lives in a place called Cava. I’ve tried training Dragon to type it right about 15 times and every time it messed it up differently. I’m only in the outline stage, too, so I can imagine this will bug me worse in the drafting stage. I almost threw a fit when it wouldn’t write my MC’s name. It’s Maeva. Not Maeve. Not “may have.”  Not “Maeve a.” THAT one was unacceptable. It’s the MC’s name. I can’t correct it every time otherwise it could be a LOT of correcting. Thankfully, Dragon was able to figure it out, and I haven’t had a problem since.

I have, however, found that the accuracy of everything else has improved greatly. I don’t think I’ve seen a single mistake that I didn’t caused myself. Huge improvement from when I used DD2. The other amazing news is that it works perfectly with Scrivener now. I’m not sure if it’s a combo of the two programs being updated or what, but I can now dictate directly in Scrivener without issue. It’s pretty fast, too. I did notice, however, that Dragon doesn’t like when I try to dictate directly in WordPress for blog posts. It works, and it’s really not THAT bad, but deleting is a pain because it deletes way more than whatever I had just written. Not a big deal, just a quirk that reminded me of DD2’s issues with Scrivener.

Finally, I’ve found that dictating for outlining is EXCELLENT. I outline heavily, and I can write between 50-200 more words on average in a 30 minute period, depending on how much thinking the scene requires. As I get back into the habit, it will probably get even higher. I’m not convinced that I will dictate directly from my brain to the page when it comes to writing the first draft, though, because the sentences come out clunky. But dictating is wonderful for my outlines. I can get out a lot more of my ideas without pain and with little effort. For the first draft, I will probably use a combo of writing by hand and dictating, if my wrists will allow it.

All in all, I’m so excited to get back into using Dragon Dictate. I think it’s going to make outlining a cinch and help my wrists heal. If you have health issues and typing for long periods of time really cause you pain, then I suggest trying it out. For those of you who have tried it or actively use Dragon, how do you like it and in what ways do you use it?

 

Getting Personal… The San Diego Fires

fireI don’t usually get this personal, but I felt like I needed to write about this… maybe to appease my own fears. Many people may have already heard that, yet again, San Diego is on fire. Why does this matter to me at all? Well, I grew up in SD, particularly I small-ish city in the middle of the county called Poway. For those of you who heard about the fire in Rancho Bernardo, I went to school at RB High, which is right next to where I lived and my family still lives.

Don’t worry, they are fine and haven’t been evacuated, nor are they even worried about anything like that. It doesn’t make anything less scary, though.

There’s fire in Carlsbad… which is where I worked only a few years ago. And, of course, the fire in San Marcos… where I went to junior college and even met met my husband. It’s just crazy.

I remember some years ago that the fires were so bad that people were asked to stay inside to avoid smoke inhalation. We were also encouraged to spend time in our cars or other places with filtered air. It was THAT bad. I also remember the one year my family and I had been dangerously close to being evacuated. Behind our neighborhood is a series of small mountains (bigger than hills, but not huge mountains). I was coming home from work, and I could see an orange glow creeping over the hilltops. Smoke billowed from the top and filled an already dense, gray sky. Thankfully, the fire still had to burn through the second set of smaller mountains behind us, so we had plenty time and security… but anyone who has lived in a place with fires of this nature can tell you that they have the uncanny ability to become deadly within minutes.

I remember a family friend’s entire house burned down… and some of the houses in this area are worth millions of dollars… but the kicker was that the fire fighters had literally been in front of the house when the family was evacuated. The fighters must have been called away or the direction had changed. But the result was heart-breaking.

I mentioned on twitter that fires are a lot like tornados. There are cases when a fire will burn every house on the block to the ground, but one will be left almost untouched. Fire can burn and grow at a rate that is impossible to predict or even comprehend. The aftermath can be absolutely gut-wrenching and tear-worthy. I remember one time, my mother took me and my siblings to check a couple of neighborhoods where my siblings’ friends lived because they had been evacuated and didn’t even know if their houses were still there.

This is one of many, MANY reasons my husband and I left California. A small reason, but it still was a reason. The ironic thing, though, is that we moved to the Midwest. Yep. Right into tornados. However, where we live now hasn’t had a tornado directly hit in a very, very, VERY long time. Sadly, there are very few places that are complete devoid of natural disasters in this country.

I guess I’m done rambling about this. Also, I feel a lot calmer, too.

Guest Post: V.J. Chambers Compelled

I have a really awesome guest today! V.J. Chambers is one of my writer idols. She’s an amazing storyteller and an awesome lady. There’s this killer book set she has out today called Compelled. It contains EIGHT complete books for $0.99! Isn’t that amazing? I’m not talking short stories here, guys. I mean full-blown novels of epic proportions. (Okay, maybe the books themselves are epic, but I’m exaggerating on how huge they are. lol) Also, the box set includes the first book in my two favorite V.J. Chambers series: Dancing Days (The Helicon Muses) and Breathless (Jason and Azazel). I also highly recommend Out of Heaven’s Grasp, which is another one of my favs. So, pick this box set up ASAP because it’s great and so is V.J Chambers.

 

boxedsetsmBuy it Now, $0.99 for Eight Complete Novels

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COMPELLED: a V. J. Chambers collection

Eight complete novels for only $0.99!! (You save $19.)

Dark. Raw. Provocative. Sexy. Tortured.

Are you ready to go to the edge?

In a V. J. Chambers story, love is searing… but it cannot be resisted. Stakes are high. Danger is imminent. Morality is gray. And characters aren’t perfect.

Read the first books in five different series. And get three standalone novels as a bonus!

For $0.99, you get:

Vigil (Standalone): NA Superhero Romance
A journalist intern finds herself falling for a mysterious, sexy masked man, but then discovers his secret identity is a rich playboy—who she hates.

Out of Heaven’s Grasp (Standalone): NA Contemporary about a polygamous cult
A young couple is torn apart by the elders in their strict polygamous community and must find their way back together.

The Killing Moon (Cole and Dana #1): Werewolf Urban Fantasy
When rehabilitated werewolves go astray and kill again, a tracker seeks insight from a man to whom she is perversely attracted—the werewolf serial killer who nearly murdered her.

Slow Burn (Assassins #1): NA Romantic Thriller
A college junior, in hiding from a corrupt shadow wing of an arms corporation, finds herself saddled with a restrained, no-nonsense bodyguard—who also happens to be jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

Frenzy (Standalone): NA Romantic Thriller
A college freshman moves into a dead girl’s dorm room and finds herself thrust into a murder mystery, owing money to the biggest ecstasy cook this side of the Atlantic, and involved with an attractive drug dealer with a secret.

Breathless (Jason and Azazel #1): YA Paranormal
A mysterious boy races into a teenage girl’s life—and soon she must choose between this boy and everyone she’s ever trusted.

Dancing Days (The Helicon Muses #1): YA Portal Fantasy
Fifteen-year-old Nora Sparrow has always relied on Owen to protect her and get her back to her home, Helicon land of the muses. But when they make it there, Owen’s protectiveness begins to seem… obsessive.

The Toil and Trouble Trilogy, Book One: YA Urban Fantasy
A young girl struggles to take over as boss of her mob family—while questioning the truth about her mother’s death.

Buy it Now, $0.99 for Eight Complete Novels

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Guest Cover Reveal: Relinquish

We have another great author here on today’s blog. Amy Thompson is the author of the Lost Souls series and is ready to reveal a beautiful book cover for the second book in the series, Relinquish. Check it out!

RELINQUISH(1)Relinquish (Lost Souls #2)

Regan had a life in Georgia. She was going to school, managed to make some friends, and even found a new love interest in Colter. So what happens when she can’t hide what she is anymore? When do all the lies become too much to handle? And how much longer can she hold onto her sanity, when Agro pushes her closer and closer to the edge of no return, her ascension to Elite?

Colter is beautifully oblivious. Wanting so much to believe that Regan is safe and Agro was halted, he ignores Finn’s constant skepticism at the risk of their friendship. Ignoring what is so clearly right in front of him, Colter passes off Regan’s outbursts of emotion on her recent trauma. Colter can feel Regan, his one exception to his retribution, slipping out of his arms, but fighting her to stay with him may not be an option.

With Colter and Finn at odds, and the newly formed alliance between Kaiden and Exile Max, will this group of Collectors be enough to fight off the new enemies and old threats that emerge in the battle for souls when Regan is broken and their group is on the brink of self-destruction?

The lost will be found, the Collectors will be exiled, and the Elites will reign.

 

amyThompsonAuthor Bio

Amy Thompson graduated from Randolph-Macon College with her B.S. in Biology. She currently works as a high school mentor and has just earned her M.S. in Higher Education from Drexel University. Amy is a self-published author of Retribution, a new adult paranormal romance novel that is the first in the Lost Souls trilogy. She lives in Southern Virginia with her family and two lazy cats. Amy Thompson is currently working on the next book in the Lost Souls trilogy, Relinquish and continues to be an avid reader of all things books.

 

Author/Book Pages
Website: http://amyrthompson.wix.com/author-amy-thompson
Goodreads Page for Relinquish: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21846685-relinquish
Goodreads Page for Retribution: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16170719-retribution
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-R-Thompson/127480004100347

Live Links for Retribution (Lost Souls #1):
Barnes and Noble (Nook Book):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/retribution-amy-thompson/1115716599?ean=2940016653495

Amazon (Paperback):
http://www.amazon.com/Retribution-Lost-Souls-Volume-1/dp/0615734847/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1371660591&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=amy+thompson+Retribution

Amazon Kindle (eBook):
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DJA6FPC

Smashwords (eBook):
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/327433

Guest Post: Fractured Truth Blog Tour

 

It’s finally here!

Fractured Truth, the final novel in the paranormal, YA Fractured Light trilogy, was just released! Follow the blog tour to find out more about Fractured Truth and enter below for a chance to a signed copy or a $25 Amazon gift card!


Llona is determined to end the fight with the Vykens once and for all. All she needs is to find and destroy the Shadow—the ultimate source of dark power. But when she makes a startling discovery about someone she loves, Llona has to fight the toughest battle yet in this exciting conclusion to the Fractured Light series.
 
Buy Fractured Truth
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Website     |     Blog     |     Facebook     |     Twitter
 
Click the pictures below to find out more about Fractured Light and Fractured Soul, book one and book two. 

 

Click here to sign up for the Giveaway!

http://www.amazon.com/Fractured-Light-Rachel-McClellan/dp/1599559420/ref=la_B005RFFM9M_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396458040&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Fractured-Soul-Rachel-McClellan/dp/1462111807/ref=la_B005RFFM9M_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396458040&sr=1-3