Thursday, December 30, 2010

Live on Amazon US... At Last!

You can now pick up my debut novel (ebook format) for the low introductory rate of $0.99 by following the link directly to the Amazon store below:

If you don't have a Kindle or other e reader, go slap Santa Claus. Then download the Kindle ap (or...sigh...other e reader ap) for your laptop or desktop. They even have them for your phone! And yes, it's entirely possible and enjoyable to read on your phone or computer. Just think- you can indulge your inner teenager by reading my book on your laptop while the rest of the world thinks you're working or something. Win-win. If you haven't done so yet, go ahead and dip your toe in ebook waters and support some Indie writers of astonishing talent who've chosen to take on the NY6. Most Indie titles range in price from $0.99 to $2.99, and just like your favorite Indie bands, there are some real diamonds out there. Besides, everyone else is doing it, and that's a great reason for anything, right?

 It's exciting to see Gifts live and available, even though the book's description has yet to post with the actual book. It looks somewhat naked, unless you already know what it's about. But the details should catch up with the cover within the next day, or so I'm told. Here's the description (again):

Caspia Chastain, art student and barista, is gifted (or plagued, if you ask her) with the ability to draw the future, usually at the worst possible times. Her parents are four years dead; everyday she watches her brother Logan fight his cancer diagnosis. School, double shifts at work, drawing and painting, and even her usually vibrant small town can't keep reality at bay: life pretty much sucks for the entire Chastain household. Things get worse the day she draws an angry stranger framed by planes of light and violent, bloody images. That exact same stranger walks up to her out of nowhere mere hours later knowing things he shouldn't, like her name, her brother's illness, and her strange ability. That's when Caspia discovers her hometown is a refuge for supernatural beings both Light and Dark, and she and her brother find themselves caught up in a war between the two that predates their very birth. In order to protect herself and her brother, she turns to the one who seems to have started it all: the creature who walked out of her sketchbook calling himself Ethan. But Ethan has his own agenda, Logan's getting sicker fast, and Caspia finds that drawing the future isn't the only strange thing she can do. Meanwhile, someone really wants all of them dead. In a town where Dark doesn't equal Evil and Light isn't always Good, Caspia and Ethan find themselves making strange alliances and even stranger sacrifices in order to protect those they love.

Excitement abounds here at the Ides of March! There are a lot of really wonderful New Year releases, including some by my own personal favorites. The Grace Series' author SA Naeole just released the fourth installment, Day of Grace, not to mention Amanda Hocking's new My Blood Approves novella and a new one from Kait Nolan, Devil's Eye. Melanie Nillis' Starfire Angels series seems to be making something of a comeback, as well. Not to mention the fact that L.A. Banks, author of the long running New York Times' bestselling Vampire Huntress novels, just went Indie. Yep. Told the NY6 to stuff it and released a whole new series on her own. Radiohead's "In Rainbows," anyone? It's a great time to be a paranormal fan. Kind of like the paranormal Indie Rennaisiance.  But even if paranormal isn't your thing, there are all kinds of choices in the Indiereader universe. I will be happy to make recommendations in any genre for anyone who's interested in discovering a new, independent author but isn't sure where or how to find one. Leave a comment or email me at:     -Happy reading!   -V

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The British Win the War

Ok, it's not a war. Not even a race or a soccer game, but Amazon UK pulls ahead of Amazon US in delivery speed. Gifts of the Blood is available there now. I tried to buy it. I was even willing to switch currency to lay my hands on it. But alas, it was not to be. I was directed, politely but firmly, back to the US site. (They are so polite.) I shall have to wait.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The New Book is (Almost) Out!

Exciting things are afoot here at The Ides of March. Not the least of which are an impending new site design, and an upcoming new and improved version of my website And now, for The Book:

I have a deep and profound new respect for typesetters. Besides being a Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin is primarily known as a typesetter/printer from Philadelphia. I always just kind of blew that off. But never again. I cannot imagine doing by hand what we've been doing by machine over the last, what, week?

But it's almost ready. The cover is done, and thanks to Tribble Studios for a very fine job:

I'll be adding a soundtrack soon as well, so be sure to check it out.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Music That Doesn't Suck

So Robert Earl Keene's "Merry Christmas From the Family" has yet to be displaced from my personal #1 spot, so I'm not even going to address that here.  What's been great is a surprise challenger for spot #2, Glossary's new Christmas offering listed below my usual #2 favorite, Sharon Jones "Ain't No Chimneys In The Projects." I may have to split the spot this year.  There's really no way to compare them- completely different sounds, completely different moods, but they're all great. 

Here's Sharon, solving one of childhood's greatest mysteries for us.  Just how does Santa fit down the chimney with all those toys?  Oh wait...I forgot:

 And Glossary's Joey Kneiser, with Bingham Barnes on the bells:

A Fool's Christmas by Glossary from Joey Kneiser on Vimeo.
Merry Christmas!

The fireplace dvd/screensaver/whatever is great, as is Bingham's dapper scarf.  I tried to find one (the fire, not the scarf) but they all looked faker than suntanned snow, or had something else wrong with them.  Some of them just looked shifty-eyed.  I never knew fireplace screensavers could look shifty-eyed before.  Thanks, Glossary and Sharon, and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: "Camille" by Tess Oliver

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of this little indie book when I snapped it up for my Kindle. It's more romance than paranormal, and more historical than paranormal, but the writer certainly knows what she's doing. She knows her time period, and she knows how to write romance. I did get the sense the whole "werewolf hunter" thing was kind of tacked on to appeal to more paranormal markets. Not much werewolf hunting goes on at all, and almost all dealing swith the supernatural can be explained away scientifically. But as I said, Oliver's understanding of late Victorian England is rich and nuanced. The book itself is well written, the main character is an engaging, no-nonsense kind of girl who should appeal to modern readers, and the romance is convincing without being heavy-handed. 

The supporting characters are interesting in their own rights. The most ineteresting character is by far the main character's sister; through her, we get a tantalizing peek inside Victorian insane asylums.  Apparently, if you are a well-bred middle class young lady with well kept long blond hair, you do not get thrown in Seward's Asylum with Dracula's minion Renfield.  Perhaps Stoker's insane asylums were only for the poor.  Tess Oliver's asylum's are bright, airy, and altogether restful.  In fact, she's quick to assure us the sister isn't even truly insane.  Nope, she's normal, even though she spends all her time crafting intricate paper fairies with names, personalities, and whole backstories.  Oh, and she talks to them, too.  The faires, I mean.  Did I mention they were made of paper?  Oh, and the sister drinks laudanum and climbs dangerously precarious tree branches, endagering her life, but only by mistake, of course.  Good thing the narrator's werewolf boyfriend's there to save her!  The sister is only there because she needs a break from the real world, and to carry on a clandestine affair with a handsome orderly.  Now there's a fascinating story! I really like this sister character.  I wish Tess Oliver would do a whole spinoff series based only on her.  

I would definitely recommend this for middle teens and for adults who are looking for a light, sweet read.  In fact, Oliver has inspired me to start what I'm going to call my "Bon-bon List."  This book makes a great quickie sugary maybe guilty fix.  I say maybe guilty because that depends on whether you've cheated on your diet lately (done all your work/ homework? Read nothing heavier than OK magazine for a month?).  I have not cheated on my diet.  Ok, my book diet.  So this bon-bon was sweet indeed.  

Did that even make sense?3.5 stars, but higher on the bon-bon scale.  Looking forward to more from Ms. Oliver.

Incidentally, I did a little snooping because hey, I'm me and I can't resist literary snooping... er... research.  Tess Oliver is the pen name of an author of two Harlequin Silhouette romance books from the early '80s.  Two tiny little things.  Can't even remember the names.  As of this writing, I can't find much else out about her.  Most authors today are pretty up front about their identities- web pages, blogging, whatev.  Oliver's two newest offerings are so slick, and smack so much of an established romance writer, I have to wonder if we aren't dealing with someone old school writer testing the ebook waters.  Just a theory.  Or a conspiracy theory.  Or something.  I did go on about that asylum, didn't I?  And my last blog was about pre-launch insanity, wasn't it?  

But my two week's indulgence isn't up yet, so no men in white coats or butterfly nets yet.  I'll keep you posted on the book, which is going well.  Waiting on a cover and formatting.  And final edits, but that's kind of a writer's joke.  I don't think there is such a thing as a final edit.  I'll be editing until I upload.   

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pre-launch Insanity

The countdown to a book release is like the bastard hybrid offspring of a wedding, freak show, a final exam, and opening night, all rolled into one.  It's like a progressive illness with semi-predictable stages but no one thought to tell you what disease you have.  Or like giving birth, only it's very likely you won't be the proud parent of a new baby girl or boy.  Oh no.  For you, there's a bizarre third option, or even a fourth or fifth.  Something with antennae, or wings, or pyromaniac tendencies.

This is just a quick post intending to thank everyone for putting up with me, especially those closest to me (i.e. my family) and the one person forced to put up with me (i.e. my spouse).  However, as I slip further into pre-launch insanity, I realize what they actually deserve is an explanation of sorts.  Perhaps if they know the signs, they can foresee when to duck.  And perhaps, after my book has eaten me alive and regurgitated my shiny white bones, they will be able to honor my memory by officially naming a new disease in my honor: Keire Syndrome.

Daniel shall be forced to spell it correctly at the memorial banquet. (Insert evil laugh)

Part one:  Stage fright.  It starts as a curious rolling sensation in the belly, as if you mistakenly awoke on board a ship and have seasickness.  But no.  This would be much too fortunate, for it would mean you had been kidnapped by pirates and could therefore forget about the whole book launch fiasco entirely.  After all, a pirate kidnapping would be entirely too fortunate for the likes of you.  No, instead you wander aimlessly for a bit, staring at your coffee cup, wondering why you can drink as much coffee as you want but food has no appeal.  Perhaps you've been turned into a vampire and now there's simply no point in worrying about either solid food or book launches....

Part two:  Delusions.  No, you silly idiot.  Vampires do not exist, no one gets kidnapped by pirates in the 21st Century, your stomach is queasy because nerves + too much coffee= little appetite, and books do not launch themselves.  No, they do not.  You, yes you, must fight your urge to hide under the comforter and do it.  At this point you become convinced that you have written....

Part three: The. Worst. Book. Ever.
Yep. That pretty much sums it up.  At this point, things begin to resemble the more familiar stages of grief model.  There is bargaining.  I'll just do this once and never again presume to be An Author.  I'll do it on the sly.  I'll do it in the dark.  I'll do it and not tell anyone.  There is grief.  No one will read this.  I have wasted my life.  My book will be nothing more than a painful memory and the bitter taste of mockery and failure.

And maybe, just maybe, there is acceptance.  I will do it anyway.  I will put myself out there.  I've already done the hard part, right?  Written the thing?  So what if everyone hates it?  Or worse, so what if no one reads it?

I'm not totally at that part yet.  I bounce around between the other stages pretty solidly, though.  What I do have are...

Treatment options and Coping mechanisms:
1.  Loud music.  Oh, thank you, thank you, benevolent muses, for the gift of music.  And to the 21st Century for the technology to make it loud and as varied as I want to get it.
2.  Take out.  Although this is getting old.  Perhaps the saddest thing I've heard throughout this whole project was when my son asked for dinner that didn't come out of a bag.
3.  My own work space.  A place set away from the main house with a door I can shut and lock.  Where I can play music as loudly as I want, that's fully stocked with art supplies, books, a lightening-fast computer, and Internet.
4.  The freedom to have the occasional meltdown, and chalk it up to: Keire Syndrome.  And the blessing of being loved and supported despite it all.