And now, bask in the glory that is ‘Air’ *imagine choir music here*
And, if you are not sufficiently basked – you may continue to bask in the glory that is ‘Water’ *more choir music*:
Now a mixed symphony:
Ok, yes. They’re very similar. It’s called branding. When you see one of my book covers, I want you to know it’s from me! For a fun, quick read on how ‘Water’ came to be, see my blog post titled Mormons, Vagina’s and Cover Art.
‘Air’ will be available for purchase within one month on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. If you have read ‘Water’, and are interested in an ARC of ‘Air’ to review, let me know! In ‘Air’, while Kaitlyn continues to carry her secret, Micah must work to prove himself to her and Shawn turns his depopulation theory into a plan.
Stay tuned for my book trailer to ‘Water’, where I totally exploit the cover! You’ll see how – follow my blog via e-mail so you don’t miss a thing!
Tomorrow is the cover reveal of the next book in the Akasha Series, ‘Air’. But for today, an interview with Air’s cover designer, Keary Taylor. I am so excited to be interviewing Keary, she is a very talented graphic artist and indie author. She created the button on the right, by the way – feel free to grab it! Keary recently released some exciting news that more than trumps my cover reveal – and I couldn’t be happier for her! Keary is an indie author of the paranormal romance ‘Fall of Angels’ trilogy and the post-apocalyptic thriller ‘Eden’. Now on to the news:
Q: Ok, I’ll just come out with it. The film and TV rights to ‘Eden’ were just negotiated. Wha- what?! Talk about every author’s dream – or many author’s dreams, anyway. How are you not bouncing off the walls right now? Tell us how this whole thing came about!
Haha, it certainly is beyond exciting! I was contacted by KK&P on November 1st so I had to keep everything a secret for over a month! But yeah, Kami Garcia (co-author of Beautiful Creatures/producer) read Eden, loved it, passed it to Mark Morgan (producer of Twilight and Percy Jackson) and he loved it too. So they contacted me, said they wanted to represent Eden for film. We went through some contract stuff and here we are! And amazingly enough, KK&P wasn’t the only production company to contact me about Eden!
Q: When did you first self-publish Eden?
In June of this year.
Q: For us author types, what marketing strategies worked best?
You have to be pretty smart about your advertising. Whenever I have a new book come out, I send ARC’s to book bloggers and do a bunch of interviews and giveaways. I also promote on Goodreads.com as well as Facebook ads. Sometimes, you just get lucky I think and things take off.
Q: For us reader types, what can we look for from you next?
I just finished the first draft of a YA contemporary I’m hoping to release in the spring (I’ll be doing an announcement of the title and cover on my blog probably around the same time this interview goes up). After that I have a science fiction I plan on working on.
Q: Will you send me an autograph movie poster of ‘Eden’, you know – when you have hit it big?
Haha, we’ll talk when it gets to that point 😉
Q: Ok – on to your graphic talents. You’ve done an amazing job with your covers, my covers, and many other indie author covers. Here are a few (more can be seen on Keary’s design page):
I’ve gotta say, ‘Awakening’ is my favorite out of the bunch – after ‘Water’, of course! Does design come naturally to you? Do you have professional training in graphic design? How did you learn the trade? Is this a part of the ‘job’ you really enjoy?
I guess you could say it comes naturally to me. When I started reading so much, I really started paying attention to covers, picking out things I really liked about certain ones. I have to admit, I don’t have any professional training. When I started self-publishing I just started playing around in Photoshop and watching different tutorials and just picked it up! I loved it! And so I started offering other authors to do it for them and soon I had people coming to me! I don’t know if I’d call the graphic design a “job”. While I do make a bit of money from it, I mostly do it for fun and to help other authors out.
Q: Tell us your thoughts on the importance of book covers.
Oh man, I can’t stress enough how important a good cover is. Being an independent author is hard enough without a bad cover working against you too. A cover is what people see first and even though they say “don’t judge a book by its cover” people always do.
Q: Have you ever won any awards for your graphic work?
None that I know of, lol. But I do get a lot of compliments and the cover for my book Eden was listed on a TON of best of 2011 covers.
Q: And back to the film rights for ‘Eden’ (because I just can’t stop thinking about it). What are the next steps? Is there a timeline? What info can you give us?
I really can’t say too much right now. There should be some more news to share in the next six months or so. As of right now it’s about getting a screenplay done, looking for actors, and studios. It is certainly exciting though! A total dream come true.
A big thanks to Keary for doing the interview and an even bigger thanks for all my great covers! Please check back in tomorrow to see her masterpiece!
Keary Taylor grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she started creating imaginary worlds and daring characters who always fell in love. She now resides on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two young children. She continues to have an overactive imagination that frequently keeps her up at night. She is the author of BRANDED, FORSAKEN, VINDICATED, AFTERLIFE (Fall of Angels series), and EDEN. To learn more about Keary and her writing process, please visit http://kearytaylor.com.
Merry Christmas – and a big welcome to all of my new followers! In addition to book review blogger interviews and fantasy author guest posts, my blog features once a week (ish) short stories based on characters from my books. This week’s short story includes Shawn, the antagonist of The Akasha Series, as a younger boy. I try to keep the short stories at flash fiction length (1,000 words or less). Please feel free to comment or e-mail me directly – I could always use the feedback
At first, they had been plentiful. Tiny specks of concentrated energy – each one of them so dense they could be seen with the naked eye, like specks of dust visible in the sun’s rays. Shawn collected them, willing them to group together, building a wall around the old man standing across from him. But now they were fewer, and so transparent they could only be felt, not seen.
They were also no longer cooperating. Many floated away from the mass, compromising the strength of the wall. The purpose was to block Cato, the old man, from being able to wield magic.
“Pay attention, son. Your creation comes from synching yourself with nature. Shields are not built by sheer willpower.” Cato lectured the 10 year-old boy, who had been at the exercise for the better part of an hour. Sweat poured down the boy’s forehead as he furrowed his eyebrows in concentration. If walls were built with willpower, Cato wouldn’t have a chance.
Cato smiled, forcing air into the flimsy block Shawn had constructed. Once the air tunnels had penetrated even the smallest pores, he pushed bits of earth through the tunnels with a burst of speed, effectively blowing apart everything Shawn had constructed.
Shawn’s frustrated growl made Cato laugh out loud. “How did you do that?” Shawn asked.
“Think of it like overpopulation. Just as the Earth cannot handle a limitless amount of humans, neither can your wall handle a limitless amount of force. Now – try again. This time, concentrate on the purity of your energy.”
Shawn took a sip from his water bottle and threw it aside. He wiped the sweat off his forehead with his shirt, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes – centering himself just as Cato had taught him. He drew energy again, attempting to build a wall around Cato’s magical abilities, molecule by molecule. This time he packed them in tighter, giving his structure a sturdy base.
“Good, good,” Cato commented. “Soon you will be able to practice with the Gaia herself. Your manipulation of her magical abilities will include strengthening it, altering it or even blocking it when necessary.”
Shawn fell into a rhythm. Slowly but surely, the wall was beginning to rise. It soon became boring, monotonous work. His thoughts fell to the overpopulation comment Cato made. “If humans are destroying the planet, because of how many of us there are – why don’t we just make it so there are less of us?” Shawn asked.
Cato turned a wary eye to the 10 year-old boy, “What do you mean, son?”
“I mean, maybe there should just be less people.” Shawn continued constructing his wall, brick by brick.
Cato wasn’t sure he should pursue the subject, but he had felt guilty – having spent all his time with the two new children he adopted three weeks ago. He at least owed it to the boy to treat his ideas with respect; owed him a serious conversation. “How would you propose we go about doing that?”
Shawn took his time answering. In the past when he had brought up the subject, he had been either brushed off or rebuked. “Well, population control, for one. Like China does. One kid per family.”
Cato nodded his head, “A valid point.” Shawn’s wall had completely enclosed Cato from the ground up to his knees. He could still knock it down, but the boy needed to practice. “Religion poses a problem. Many religions preach that faith equals fertility. Going against such a fundamental belief is not a good idea – even if your original intentions are to save the planet. Not many will be on your side. You would alienate our organization from the majority of the population.”
“Religion isn’t all bad – I mean, look at all the wars started because of religious differences. That got rid of some of the population,” said Shawn.
“You’ve been paying attention in your history lessons! Good boy!” Cato ruffled Shawn’s hair, choosing to ignore the darker implications of Shawn’s thought. Shawn had suddenly picked up speed with his wall – it was now closing over Cato’s chest.
Encouraged, Shawn continued. “Governments spend so much money on disaster efforts, sick people, old people. Why don’t they just, you know, stop doing that? Might help with population numbers.”
“Most certainly. But then you are telling people to ignore one of the very traits that define humanity – compassion.” Cato uttered the last word with uncertainty. He pushed a small amount of energy into the wall. Impenetrable. The boy was learning. Slowly, the wall began closing in; squeezing Cato like a sinister hug.
“But it is compassion, because you are saving the Earth – making it a better place for humans and in the end even saving people,” Shawn said.
Cato tried taking a deep breath, but the squeezing was too intense. Even though Shawn’s wall was invisible to the naked eye, it was as solid, and as real – as steal. They boy’s magic, as well as the conversation, were treading dangerous ground.
“Shawn – I think you are missing the point.” Cato was having more and more difficulty talking as the wall snaked around him. “The Seven exists to protect and help the Earth. Those of us that have been blessed with the ability to manipulate elements and energy must do our best to counter the harmful effects of the human population. We are not here to counter the human population itself.”
“Well, maybe we should.” Shawn completed the wall; it surrounded Cato like a claustrophobic igloo. The two stood there, still as ice – one by choice, the other not so much.
Cato was taking in short, constricted breaths, “To what end? Why then, would we be saving the Earth? Who would be here to enjoy it?”
Suddenly, the wall disintegrated. Shawn released his adoptive father and said, “You know – the rest of us. Whoever is left.”
Cato resisted the urge to brush off of the non-existent wall debris. “No. The answer is no. We will all abide by the mission of the organization – and the mission is not depopulation.”
Completely unnerved by the entire experience, Cato picked up his gym bag and walked away, mumbling excuses of the work awaiting him.
Shawn watched him go. “Then maybe we need a new organization.”
What did you think? Contact me or comment and let me know!
Want to read more? Check out my contemporary eco-fantasy, Water: Book One of the Akasha Series.
Please welcome Stephen Hise, author of Upgrade, described as a bodice ripper with a Twilight Zone twist. He also runs the website Indies Unlimited; a great resource for authors that is both fun and entertaining! If you haven’t signed up to follow him yet…do it. Do it – I dare you. Stephen is here to talk about Indie publishing and it’s future:
We are at the beginning of a technological revolution in how books are written, published, marketed, purchased, and read. The hallmark of the technological revolution is that the changes in technology occur faster than society on the whole can adapt to them.
Everyone wants change. No one wants the change that actually happens. Remember all the tumult and furor generated when humankind moved from cave paintings to stone tablets, and again to scrolls before settling comfortably on bound-paper books? No? Well, I’m sure there was quite an uproar.
Technology has put on her running shoes. You can stay behind, faking a cramp, or run along and try to keep up. It may be that the big six publishing houses will somehow adapt and survive. Maybe they won’t. Maybe the big chain bookstores will adapt and survive. Maybe they won’t. The systemic changes will come gradually. It is not that print is dead, but there is little doubt that it is on the way out. It may take a generation before a child hoists a paper book up from some trunk he was exploring in the attic and asks Grandpa what this thing is.
The vaunted gatekeepers of publishing are in disarray. Now writers who could not navigate the labyrinth of agents, publishers, and publicists can get their work directly to readers without any intermediaries. The readers will now decide if this is “what they’re looking for.”
Some of the writing now available is excellent. Some is crap. Know what? The same thing was true when the gatekeepers controlled things. I’ve bought some titles from well-known traditionally published authors that made me wonder how such a thing ever got published. In truth, all the same sins that the traditional publishing houses so easily see in indie-published books are the same sins of which they themselves are guilty.
So the big traditional publishers can cry, whine, and point fingers all they want. The fact is that now readers have more choice and they can buy more books with less money than ever before. That is a good thing.
Indie authors are also accessible to their readers. Most have websites, blogs, and Facebook pages where a reader can communicate directly with an author, get to know them, and ask them questions. I see that as a very positive change. I think readers appreciate that as well.
I wouldn’t hold forth for a minute that everything coming down the pike will be all sunshine and roses – It never is. On the whole, I think we are witnessing some very interesting creative destruction that will change the landscape of writing, publishing and reading for many years to come.
Stephen Hise is the author of the novel, UPGRADE. You can learn more about him at his website, http://stephenhise.com/ and check out his blog celebrating independent authors at: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/ His book is available as an e-book at Amazon and Smashwords, or in print from Wordclay. Also be sure to visit him on Facebook!
Another short for you. This one features Alex and Susan, two characters in my novel ‘Water’, and shows how Alex was introduced to the Seven
Somehow when I thought of Afghanistan, I imagined desert, men in turbans, and camels. I was so wrong. Instead, there were treacherous, ice-covered mountains. The men who shot at me didn’t wear turbans; they mostly wore their knitted pokal hats. And the only camel I saw was dead, bones picked clean by a starving village.
It was a horrible place, made more so by constant war. I shrugged off the misery of Afghanistan; it was better than going to foster parents. My mom signed the parental release forms for the military on her death bed; we had no surviving kin.
“Henson! Do you have them yet?”
“Working on it.” I grunted back. I was supposed to be behind the lines in a warm tent, playing with high-tech, cryptologic receivers trying to intercept enemy communications. But our small detachment got attacked, and the commander decided to integrate the radio guys with infantry. Apparently, in Afghanistan, there was no such thing as ‘behind the lines’.
“Hurry up, Marine! We need some intel.” The platoon sergeant kept pressuring me. He had no idea how difficult it was to operate a receiver with bullets flying so close I could feel the wind off of them.
“I swear to – ” The sergeant was cut off by a bullet to the throat. I watched, his body falling in slow motion while the rest of the world continued at a normal speed. Dust billowed up around him as he hit the ground. I crawled over to him, putting pressure on his throat. He started to gurgle so I let go immediately, afraid I was choking him. I didn’t know what the hell to do. I looked around helplessly, just in time to see the first truck in our convoy out of there get blown up. By the time I looked back down at the sergeant, he was gone – eyes wide open and lifeless.
I stared in shock, from my bloody hands to the whites of his eyes, and back again. His body jumped slightly as a bullet zipped into his side; like kicking him while he was down.
“Fuck a whole lot of this.” I immediately backed away; that bullet was probably meant for me. Another deafening blast; the convoy was not done getting ripped apart either. Where the hell were the reinforcements? I had called for them myself over three hours ago. These shooters weren’t exactly accurate, but they were coming out of the woodworks. Word of our position spread faster than disease out here, except to our allies.
I grabbed my rifle and radio and slithered over to a ravine. Two grunts took position on either side of me; keeping enemy bullets at bay. I switched channels back and forth on HF, trying to remember the frequency for the battalion. I didn’t bother going secure; there was no time for it.
Finally, something came in. It wasn’t the battalion intercepting my distress call. It was a woman. “Say again, I do not read you. I repeat…say again.”
“This is Corporal Henson, 3rd Platoon located three clicks northwest of Korengal Valley. We are under fire; we need air support and evacuation of casualties. Transportation is out.”
“Where is your battalion, Corporal? I will relay the message.”
I gave the woman my battalion’s information and our grid coordinates, praying this wasn’t some sort of trap. Five minutes later the radio crackled back to life, “Helo went down in route to evac you. They are doing recovery efforts there. Will be some time before they can get to you.”
I exchanged a despaired look with one of the Marines beside me. I put the handset up to my mouth when her voice came back on, “We are coming in from the south. Look for two vehicles with the number seven on the side. And do not effin’ shoot us.”
“Who are you?”
There was a short pause before she answered, “A friend.”
“Seals?” One of the Marines offered.
“What, they’re sending GI Jane to save us?” I rolled my eyes at him. Maybe CIA? Whatever – if she had vehicles that weren’t currently on fire, it’ll do.
No less than ten minutes later, the sound of idling vehicles reached us. They stayed well back from the battlefield, hidden to the enemy in the shadows. We had all taken up positions behind our rifles, but couldn’t let up. A break in fire could mean an enemy through our lines; another Marine dead.
A slight tap at the shoulder and my reaction was to immediately let my elbow fly back. Thankfully, she was expecting that, and ducked.
“I suppose I should’ve made it clear. No elbows, either.” The woman was almost as tall as me, an unusual trait. She was in tennis shoes and what looked like a running outfit. It wasn’t camouflage but at least it was dark. She had her hair pulled back into a tight ponytail at the nape of her neck. In rural America, she could have passed for a jogger.
“Who are you; why are you here?”
“I am Susan. We are going to get you out of here – alive.” She peeked around me at the raging battle; we weren’t even in the thick of it. We were on the outskirts. She put up a hand-held walkie-talkie to her mouth and began issuing instructions.
“But why are you in the area?” I asked.
“We’re here to help the environment.”
I laughed – as did several others. Susan glowered at me.
“I am being serious.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake, woman.” The crazy episodes of Whale Wars came to mind. “My hands are stained with the blood of my sergeant, and you’re here to keep them from cutting down trees?!” I shot off my last couple of rounds and changed out magazines. “There are no trees out here!”
She shrugged, “Not anymore.”
I looked at her, mouth open, “You are serious.”
“They cut down most of their trees for war. Plus, the land is depleted and not conducive for agriculture. Help the land, help the economy. A stable economy makes for a stable country. See – it’s this whole domino effect that I don’t have time to explain, because your Marines are dying.”
Another explosion, closer this time, sent us all flying. We picked ourselves up. One of the Marines beside me went running into the thick of it, relaying orders for a retreat. He never came back. 13 others did.
“We can all fit, I think – let’s get going before they realize what’s up.” Susan said.
“No,” I stopped her, grabbing her at the wrist. “We have to get the fallen.”
Her mouth pressed into a tight line, “I’m sorry, we just don’t have enough room.” There must have been twice as many Marines dead than those that still stood. I shook my head, “Non-negotiable.”
Susan stopped, turned to face our group, and scanned their faces slowly. They were tired, dirty, bloody, hurt, and scared. But they were as resolute as I was. We all go, or no one goes.
She dropped her head in consent, “Fine. But we’ll need at least one other vehicle.”
There was one other, sitting untouched amongst the smoldering scraps of its brothers. I could see face of the enemy just beyond it. They hadn’t approached yet, but it wouldn’t be long now. “We’ll need a diversion.”
“Done,” Susan said, “When the storm hits, get someone to back that vehicle out of there, and get everyone on board – quick.” Susan held the walkie-talkie up to her mouth again, “I need you here.”
Placing the walkie-talkie in her back pocket, she closed her eyes, and began slowly raising her arms into the sky.
“What are you doing?”
“Please don’t distract me.”
A large, native-American man, with dark, black hair in a thick braid that went down to the middle of his back, walked up to join Susan. Despite the cold, he was in a sleeveless shirt. His thick arms were adorned with tattoos of the planet Earth, various trees and of course eagles.
“You people are crazy.”
“About as crazy as you, Marine.”
Great, compatible by insanity. Susan’s arms were all the way above her head now, and the wind had begun to pick up. How had she known a storm was coming?
I looked back at her face. Her eyes were striking, glowing a bright green against the dark sky. Her hair was coming loose; wild strands whipped around her face. The man next to her was now kneeling, with one hand on the ground, chanting.
The Marine standing next to me suddenly lurched forward, then fell to the ground. Blood gushed out from under his not-so-bulletproof helmet. That was the last Sergeant; meaning now I was in charge.
Susan yelled at me over the increasing wind, now infused with dirt and sand, “The storm will temporarily disorient them and slow them down. But it won’t stop bullets.”
Got it. I barked out orders to the nearest Marine, “As soon as the storm moves into that group there, run for the vehicle. We’ll lay down cover fire.” Then turned to the rest of the group, “The rest of you – get your brothers. We’re bringing them home.”
I had to cover my mouth. Where had all the sand come from? I had seen nothing but ice and rock on the ground for almost a month. The sky cracked open with a bolt of lightning, and rain like I had never even seen stateside poured down. It was literally raining mud. The storm’s intensity moved from directly overhead toward the enemy line. We were still getting rain and wind, but now they were bearing the brunt of it. My platoon stood stock still, staring at the freak storm with nervous glances at Susan and the Native American. “Move it!”
My bark shocked them into action. The whirlwind of rain and mud tightened in on itself, sounding almost like a freight train. Susan’s vehicles pulled forward, and two more men got out to help load the wounded and the dead.
Our vehicle came up beside them. A quick head count – everyone was accounted for and loaded up. “We’re good!” I shouted to Susan.
Her arms began to sink back down to her sides, and she lay a hand on her companions shoulder. He broke out of his trance and stood up. The storm had already started to diminish.
“We have about five minutes before they come charging through what’s left of the sandstorm.” Susan said as she hopped into the passenger side of one car. “You coming?”
“Yeah.” I narrowed my eyes at the storm, then her. It couldn’t be. But then again, I did just see it for myself.
I was the last one to the vehicles. I glanced at the large number seven painted on the side of the vehicle, then crowded Susan over as there were no more seats.
“I want to join.”
Susan looked at me with a half-smile, she exchanged glances with the Native American, then handed me a clean rag from the glove box. “Haven’t you done enough joining for one lifetime?”
I used it to wipe the blood from my hands, “Apparently not.”
I leaned back in my seat, and put my arm around Susan. This was one lady who offered adventure I could not pass up.