Monday, April 27, 2009

I Do Believe Tomorrow's the Big Day

I have a note on my calendar that Lisa Shearin's next novel in the Raine Benares Fantasy series THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS will be released tomorrow, April 28. It was my great priviledge to receive an ARC from Penguin Group, and you can find my big thumb's up review in an earlier post on this blog (and also Take it to the Stars and Toaster Scimitar. I got a lot of mileage out of that one. :) )

For those of you who won pre-orders of Lisa's book on this blog, Amazon has informed me all have been shipped. You should have them shortly. Enjoy!

For those who didn't, run...don't the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy. This is another fast, fun and furious tale in the tradition of the series, and a true delight for the Tam/Raine/Mychael triangle fans.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Shout Out to Those I Met at the UNM Writers Conference

A big hello to any dropping by my blog that I met at the University of New Mexico Writers Conference this weekend. *smiles and waves* I had a great time getting to know some of you and hearing about your projects.

It was a fun and informative day and I came away with some excellent materials and notes from the workshops and the editors/agents panel.

Happy writing!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Now on Duty: Fax and Benna

Special of the Day: Benna's Crush

Fax laser punches his time card, ties on his apron and wanders over to where Benna is parked behind the bar. She's got both elbows planted on the counter, chin in hands, staring across the room.

"Evenin'," Fax says. When she doesn't respond, he waves his hand in front of her eyes. "You on planet or off tonight?"

"It's him again," she mutters, and Fax follows her gaze to a man sitting alone in a booth at the back wall.

"What? The old guy?"

"Not old." Benna straightens and sighs. "Experienced."

"He's old enough to be your-"

Benna turns and grips his arm. "I heard the other freighters talking. They say he flies solo out of Purmia, that he might be running illegal Borga Ore, but I bet he's some general or prince or something. He sure looks the part, doesn't he? Tall...fair-haired-"


"Mmm, just a touch at the temple. Distinquished."

"He's got wrinkles."

"Character lines."

"Crows feet around his eyes."

"And what eyes they are. Green as Kenton jungle ice."

Fax scowls. "You sure you haven't been sippin' the merchandise?"

"Not me."

"He's practically a senior citizen."

"He's a prince."

"Okay, it's your fantasy; he can be whatever you want. Just make sure he doesn't stiff you on the tab."

Benna raises an eyebrow. "Not him."

Fax shakes his head and goes to fetch a fresh rack of glasses.

Benna pulls an ale for her customer and struts across the room to slide the frothing tankard in front of him. He looks up and gives her a smile and a thanks. She returns to the bar and resets to ogle mode until the subject of her fascination rises, swipes his credit chip through the cash-bot and glances her way as he walks toward the exit.

"Oh, he's leaving." Benna sighs. "But he smiled at me."

"It looked more like a grimace."

She punches the tally to tag his credits. "Definitely my kind of man."

"What makes you say so?"

"Superb tipper," she says with a wistful smile.

In a quiet aside to my patrons: Benna's crush--aka the mysterious Mr. X--is a supporting character from P2PC, a novel I'm currently marketing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Now on Duty: Fax and Benna

Special of the Day: Benna's Type

"Heard we had a new recruit." Benna shakes hands with Fax, the new tender--tall, blond, bright-eyed, good-looking...and so not her type. "So how was life at the Net?"

His mouth quirked into a smile. "Like the rumors times ten. I am definitely enjoyin' my new work environment." He gives her a wink. "Even better now."

Benna frowns and hands off her electro-pad. "There's new chalks at the counter. Better start earning your pay."

"Leaving so soon?"

"Glasses to rack and inventory to count.,” she says over her shoulder as she walks away. “Think you can handle the counter for a few?"

"'S’what I live for."


Fax watches Benna disappear through the swingers into the kitchen and return with a full tray of mugs.

"Worked here long?" Fax asks as he pulls a Billins for a drowsy Parolian female seated at the bar.

"Five spins."

"You're an old hand, then."

"I prefer to think of myself as well-seasoned but not over-fried."

Fax laughs.

Jool, the other duty tender, comes back from a table with an empty tray. "Hey Benna, seen the new delivery guy yet?"

"No. Why?"

"'Cause if you had, you'd be bringing him up in conversation. He's definitely your type."

"I have a type?"

"You know you do. Everyone knows you do."

Benna shrugs.

"Oh, yeah? What's your type?" Fax asks.

She shakes her head and walks away. Jool hipchecks Fax. "Tall, dark and mysterious. Except they don't have to be tall. Or dark."

Fax glances toward Benna. "Hm. She likes a mystery man, huh?"

"Now take that new delivery guy, Sair," Jool says, rearranging the fruit garnishes. "Maybe Rathskian, maybe not. No kensmarcs, you know? Not a scar on him. He's got the looks that would make him a premium gig...but he's deliverin' ale. And he wears those sunshades even indoors.”

"Sounds like he's hidin' somethin’."

"Maybe. It puts him in that questionable category. Benna loves that stuff."

Fax scowls.

“Oh and just for the record,” Jool adds, “Sair’s got that tall and dark thing going on to the T, too.”

“Yeah, prolly big T as in big trouble,” Fax grumbles.

“The more trouble, the better, s’far as Benna’s concerned,” Jool says. “You kinda like her, doncha?”

Fax purses his lips. “Too soon to tell.”

Jool just smiles. “Whatever you say.”

The house ale seems to be reanimating the formerly zombified Parolian sitting at the bar. She snaps her fingers to get Fax’s attention. “Hey, tender. Come down here and talk to me.”

“Might want to heed that,” Jool whispers. “She’s a great tipper when she’s in a good mood.”

Fax puts on a grin and saunters her way.

“What’s the latest, doll boy?” the Parolian purrs and flashes him an orange-fanged smile.

“Not a lot of news, of late. But I did hear The Galaxy Express had a coupla entertaining topics: Bug-Eyed Monsters in Love and Counselor Troi Must Die.”

“Fascinating.” She gives him a sly wink. “Got anything a bit sexier for a workin’ girl?”

“Just might.” Fax gives her his best conspiring tender smile. “The folks at io9 tap into Authors Who Put the Sex in their Science Fiction.”

“Now you’re talkin’. In my line of work, I have to keep up with the competition.”

Fax nods. "Refill?"

"Not before me shift." She slithers off her bar stool and adjusts her scanty outfit. "Just crank this up ta my house tab, and I'll be back in a coupla' days to settle." She pauses to lean across the bar toward Fax. "Oh, an' a lil bonus tip for ya, doll face. You want to get Benna's attention, don't act so interested in 'er. Take it from an expert."

She gives a saucy wink as she heads toward the exit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Author Margaret West on Creating a Book Trailer

Today I'm interviewing author Margaret West about how she created a wonderful book trailer for her new release TWO FACES ONE LIFE available as an e-book or on Amazon as a paperback.

You can see her book trailer here or at the bottom of this post. Be sure to also check out Margaret’s website.

Q: Hi Margaret. Thanks for offering to share your knowledge and experience. I’m sure this is a topic many people will be interested in.

A: Hi Laurie, and thank you for inviting me here today to blog.

Q: Let me start with a few questions about how you created your trailer. First of all, is this your debut novel or have you published before? Tell us a little about the story.

A: I am a Romance and Paranormal Romance writer. I have had three novels released over the last two years, a few short stories and some poetry. I also write home study courses for Psychic Development and Crystal Therapy. Right now I have three books in the works and another romance release due later this year. In every one of my novels I always try and leave a message for the reader within the story. TWO FACES ONE LIFE is no exception. It is a short story based on the lives of two people who are disabled. Ted is blind after an accident and Sarah is badly disfigured after a house fire. They meet in a park and from this meeting discover that you don't need eyes to see someone, or looks to make someone notice you. It is a beautiful story that will have you reaching for your handkerchiefs.

Q: What software did you use to create your trailer? Why did you choose that application?

A: While there is software available, it is a bit expensive, so I chose Windows Movie Maker as it is free and already part of Windows.

Q: Can you take us through the steps on how you created the trailer? (Does the software have templates? Etc.)

A: The colours are down to your own preference for the back ground as there are a wide range of colours. The same to the fonts. You need to play with it and see what catches your eye and then think would it catch a readers? Because, don't forget, this is about keeping your readers attention, not just making a trailer that catches your attention. It doesn't have templates because you’re making them yourself. Think of the blank pages of a book and you are able to add any pictures or writing you like to each page.

I'll start from scratch, for those, who like me, are not really computer minded.

I'll keep making references to my book trailer as I talk you through the various stages to save confusing everyone.

Step one.
The trailer needs to incorporate the whole of your book in a few minutes. So your main characters need to be in it, the hook of the story and the premise. In my case it was Ted and Sarah. They met on a park bench, so I searched the internet for a couple sitting on a park bench. Now be very careful about your pictures. EVERYTHING is usually copywrited, so you CAN'T use it. So it is better to work with obscure silhouette pictures, rather than actual images, unless you are using pictures from your novel.

If you have Microsoft Windows, movie maker will be in your programs. [Note: I found Movie Maker under Accessories on my system.] Go to it and click on it. When the page comes up, to the right of your screen will be a black preview square, which shows you what you are doing. On the left hand side of the screen is a drop down menu which will say IMPORT, EDIT and PUBLISH TO. Click on pictures and it will go to your picture files. Click on the picture that you want and then click import. The picture will then appear beside the black preview box. Import all the pictures that you need for your trailer.

Step Two.
Drag your pictures down to the timeline bar at the bottom of your screen in the order that you want them to appear on the trailer. If you wish to alter the way the pictures will appear, go to EDIT. Click on effects. This will allow you to play with each picture . Do you want them to look dark in places, wobble or ripple, etc? Chose which one you like, you can change them any time if you change your mind half way through the trailer.

Step Three.
Go to TRANSITIONS. This makes your pictures fade out, shatter, etc when leading onto the next picture. Play with this and see which one you like. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Step Four.
When you want to add the music, click on MUSIC/AUDIO FILE, this will take you where you store your music on the trailer. Select your music and click import. This will bring your music file to the trailer program. Now drag the music to your timeline at the bottom of the screen. Play with this as you may need to stretch the music to be longer with certain picture etc.

Step Five.
Now go to TITLES AND CREDITS. Click on each one and it will tell you where to put your text and end credits. You can use the fonts/colours here too.

Step Six.
When you have done this and you are happy with the trailer preview, on the drop down menu, where it says PUBLISH you can either save it on your computer, DVD, or publish it on the internet, etc.

Q: You mentioned it was easier than you expected. What was the hardest part about creating it?

A: Finding pictures that are not copywrited and the same problem for the music.

Q: Can you tell us what elements of the story you wanted to capture, or what message you wanted to get across in your trailer?

A: I wanted the reader to actually see the characters rather than just visualising them and of course to draw them into the book by adding snippets from the story that pulled at the heartstrings.

Q: Are there any sites that have more information for those who are interested in learning how to create a trailer?

A: None better than Windows Movie Maker. Although I can’t say that I surfed all the sites out there.

Q: Any other advice for those who'd like to give this a try?

A: Don’t be afraid to play with the trailer. Try lots of different types of music.

Thank you again for sharing your insights, Margaret. TWO FACES ONE LIFE looks like a great story, and I love the book trailer you created for it.

I experimented based on Margaret’s instructions and was able to begin putting together a sample book trailer in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, most of the pictures I have saved are copywrited, so I can’t use my experiment as an official version. However, there are websites available where stock photos can be purchased for use in promotional materials, or some sites grant use of their pictures. Give it a try and have fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Trouble With Demons: Book Review

By Lisa Shearin
Ace Books
Release date: April 28, 2009

(Available for pre-order)

OPENING NOTES FROM THE REVIEWER: I think I may have let out a little squeeee (no witnesses, thank goodness) when I opened a package from Penguin Group this week and discovered—you guessed it—an ARC of THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS inside. I lost no time jumping into the first chapter and being swept up in Raines’ continuing saga. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I try to avoid spoilers. Knowing what’s going to happen takes the surprise and spontaneity out of the journey. And this novel has surprises, spontaneity and twists aplenty. I found THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS slightly darker than the first two books in the series, MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND and ARMED & MAGICAL but no less unpredictable. The heroine has established a pension for doing the unexpected in the earlier books, and she certainly didn’t disappoint in this new tale of magic and mayhem.

Raine—no stranger to trouble, she—continues her penchant for getting into the most dangerous, impossible situations. There’s plenty of action, conflict, supernatural entities, epic battles, but woven into and through the adventure is Raine’s intensifying bond with, and heart-wrenching struggle over, both men who have infiltrated her life, Mychael and Tam. More on that later. On to the elements…

COVER ART: This is my favorite covers of the series, so far. The font has lost its little sparkly twinkles which makes it a bit less busy, and the use of vivid color and mythic backdrop suggests the novel’s tone. The depiction of Raine with knives drawn and “armed for ogre,” seems to capture the spitfire nature of the character I call Calamity Raine. I would still love to get a glimpse of her leading men on a future cover. Or are they best left to my imagination?

INITIAL IMPRESSION: Raine wastes no time finding trouble. By page five she’s embroiled in an attack by powerful demons who have some utterly creepy battle tactics, and who only Raine can see…and things plummet downhill from there. Yup. Calamity Raine is back.

MAIN CHARACTERS: Raine Benares is a seeker, a finder of lost things, and a sorceress of moderate powers. She’s also a street-smart, quick-witted, armed-to-the-teeth member of a family of infamous rogues and criminals. In MLTF, she found something she wasn’t looking for and has been trying to get rid of it ever since. The Saghred, an ancient, soul-munching stone of power, has claimed her as a bond servant—a plight that both disgusts her and at times gives her incredible abilities, but always at a price. Mychael Eiliesor, a fellow elf, Conclave Guardian, paladin and powerful spellsinger came into her life to help her shake off her disturbing attachment, and his job often puts him at odds with her instincts, but she knows not everything Mychael does for her is strictly in the line of duty. Tam, hot goblin, nightclub owner, recovering (or is he?) dark mage with a questionable past also finds himself entangled in Raine’s plight, though an entanglement of a different sort is more what he has in mind. When Raine accepts Tam’s help in one particularly grim and desperate scene, they find there are consequences for their collaboration. Serious consequences. As Raine’s dilemma continues, the love triangle manifests itself in a profound way and ultimately represents the forces of Good, Evil…and Raine.

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: Oh my, where do I start? Phaelan, Raine’s infamous pirate cousin holds his own with the most menacing threats despite his lack of magical ability. Phaelan is devious, conniving, swaggering and steadfastly loyal. Phaelan’s dad, Raine’s uncle, Commodore Ryn Benares also steals a scene or two. Piaras, Raine’s young friend and adopted “kid brother” is a spellsinger university student of incredible talent. So much talent that it often threatens his life. Talon Tandu, friend and fellow student of Piaras, is a young, seductive, half-blood goblin/elf—and Tam’s son. Sora Niabi, professor of demonology, is very good at her job and a peer Raine can relate to. Vegard, the Guardian assigned to protect Raine, or just keep up with her—good luck with that, V—becomes an unwilling sidekick to many of her escapades. Archmagus Justinius Valerian, most powerful mage on Mid next to Mychael, is still recovering from an attack that occurred in book two. Or is he? Raine’s father, Eamaliel Anguis, also has a presence, though from inside the rock, and has a surprise in store. There are many more characters and it’s important to remember the names and roles of each, as they often make encore appearances.

VILLAIN: There are, once again, many who might qualify as “villain material,” and most either want to possess the Saghred/Raine talent team, or want the stone and/or Raine contained, controlled and destroyed, in no particular order. Sarad Nukpana is back in all his evil glory, as is Rudra Muralin, power-goblin of the past. Sundry demons, my favorite of which is yellow and pops out of the…well, on second thought, see for yourself. The demon horde has a formidable leader who’s in control of the invasion, and thinks Mychael would be quite delicious. Even some of the “good guys” are bad guys, and Carnades Silvanus, in particular, is always plotting and manipulating facts to suit his plans.

OTHER CHARACTERS: There is a large and well-drawn contingent of minor characters, including loyal Guardians, dark mage bodyguards, corrupt officials, seedy minions, and supernatural creatures of darkness. They have a habit of springing at Raine at any time and from any direction. Definitely keeps a reader on their toes.

WORLD BUILDING: The imaginative world continues on the Isle of Mid, home to the Guardian citadel, a university for learning the magic arts, the Quad, government buildings, tunnels, streets, alleys, abandoned edifices, passageways and a bustling seafront. In this fantasy world, the threat of a lawsuit is sometimes as imposing as the threat of violence.

CONFLICT: Raine wants one thing—to rid herself of the Saghred stone. Well, maybe she wants three things, Mychael and Tam also being at the top of her list, though she has good reasons for distancing herself from both despite the fact the Saghred wants to collect them as a packaged set.

ROMANCE: Raine and Mychael and Tam, oh my! How’s a girl to decide between the powerful White Knight of Mid who is sworn to protect her but shouldn’t even associate with her—not that he can stay away—or one of the darkest of dark mages who is doing everything he can to change his spots for Raine. Although this novel can’t be classified as a romance, I feel the romantic conflicts between the main characters is one of the most powerful aspects of this series. The characters are so compelling that I, as a reader, can’t make up my mind who I like better for Raine’s suitor any more than Raine can. That makes for some wonderful prolonged romantic intrigue that has carried through the first three novels, only gets more entangled in the third, and doesn’t look to be resolved anytime soon.

MOST QUOTABLE QUOTE(S): Sooo many fantastic quotes in this one, but some are so pivotal to the plot that I don’t want to spoil all the fun, so here are just a few non-spoiler extracts:

Phaelan’s philosophy: “Live fast, die young, and leave behind a damned fine-dressed corpse.”

Raine’s family: “I’m a Benares. Our standards of proper behavior are a little different than everyone else’s.”

Raine’s lament: “I scare me.”

MAGIC QUOTIENT: One of Raine’s thoughts pretty much sums it up: “…an apocalyptic, magical kaboom waiting to happen.”

EVIL AUTHORS GUILD STAMP OF APPROVAL: The Evil Authors Guild exists to encourage writers to inflict appropriate amounts of terror, angst and emotional torture into their characters’ lives, and to leave them twisting in the wind at every opportunity. As you may have guessed from the comments above, this one gets one big, fat, red Approved.

FINAL WORD: It’s rare when a sequel can carry on the inspiration and freshness of the original novel as ARMED & MAGICAL did. It’s rarer still when the third novel in the series can take the reader into uncharted territory in terms of romantic stakes, danger and spontaneity. THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS goes there. The characters get a bit of a breather at the conclusion to reflect, rethink and possibly reload. The story is left with a wonderfully-developed suggestion of impending doom and a sharp, edgy hint that history is about to repeat itself. This air of suspense will no doubt leave readers clamoring for the next book in the series. THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS delivers in spades…and rapiers, spears, daggers, and loads of “kaboom.”

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Benna on the Job

Special of the Day: Meet Benna

"Hi, I'm Benna. What can I get you?" She smiles and nods. "Yeah, Benna from Banna, I get that a lot." She laughs and ticks off your order on her electropad. "Coming right up."

She busies herself collecting your drink and munch order. "Fax? Yeah, he's the new tender here. I haven't worked with him yet, but I hear he came over from The Nasty Net." She smirks. "Yeah, local nick for the place. Smart career move, if you ask me. That Net..." She purses her lips and shakes her head. "Lot of turnover there and I don't mean just in the employment department. Only place on Banna where the staff can get mugged."

"Oh, Fax mentioned the trouble there? Yes, the whole spaceport is talking. Forty of the Net's finest ganged up on some little female that wandered in during the blockade." She resets a cube keg and draws off the air. "Joke was on them, though. Rumor is she was some sort of trained mercenary. Most of them are missing teeth and nursing slashes for their trouble. I'll have to ask Fax for the lowdown when I meet him."

Benna fixes her attention on a tall man who enters the lounge and saunters to a booth in the corner. He's almost as tall as a Rathskian, but leaner and blond. One of Benna's coworkers goes to take his order.

"News?" she mumbles, her eyes still set on the mature man. "Yeah, I've heard a couple of interesting facts. There's a book giveaway in progress over at
Writer's Musings. Stop by for a chat to get entered into their contest for a copy of BRALESS IN WONDERLAND by Debbie Reed Fischer or SHIFT by Jennifer Bradbury."

Noting your fingers are getting slick from the delicious Bannan fries, she deals a couple more napkins from the dispenser and slides them next to your plate.

"Then over on
The Galaxy Express there's a very interesting retrospective on the Star Wars series. If you're a fan of that particular universe, you really should check it out."

"In case you haven't heard, Lisa Shearin has posted another
snippet from her upcoming April release, THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS, book three in her Raine Benares series. It's a real teaser." She winks. "Maybe you should look in."

"A couple of our favorite patrons...patronesses?...Barbara Elsborg and Dawn Jackson both have news. If you like your reading on the spicier side, Barbara's next erotica romance
ANNA IN THE MIDDLE , an intriguing menage featuring Jax from her previous novel, SOMETHING ABOUT POLLY, is now available at Ellora's Cave and Dawn Jackson's next short, SPEAKEASY, a fabulous, sexy romp through the roaring 20s, is up on Ravenous Romance. Barbara was also interviewed this past week by author Margaret West on her blog."

"Also, be sure to check out
Ghost Planet, the website of recent visitor and RWA Golden Heart nominee for paranormal romance, Sharon Lynn Fisher." Benna glances down the bar and curls her forefinger, motioning you closer. "The GH Award is for unpublished manuscripts, and you might want to keep an eye out for GHOST PLANET in the future. I know I'm going to."

"Oh, leaving us so soon?" She motions to the cash-bot to hover over and collect your payment, and you note how her gaze moves back to the mystery man in the corner booth.

"Sure, always glad to share." She sends a scrubber-bot down the counter to vacuum up a few stray crumbs after you rise to your feet. "Well, be sure to stop back and see us next trip."

You head toward the exit, glancing back to see she's got her eyes fixed on Mr. X, once again.