Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Castles and Caverns: Zeld and the Invaders" by JD Raisor

Last winter when I was traveling all over the state talking to students about being a writer, and teaching writing assemblies, I made a memorable (if insanely long) trip to the Four Corners area. Since we were broke, as most new writers are, my husband posted a request from his friends to see if anyone knew someone who would put me up for a night in that area. Yeah, I thought it was a little scary too, when I heard.

However, my good friend Karen Hoover hooked me up with this family in Blanding who had put her up on a similar trip in the previous year. JD Raisor and his wife some of the sweetest, nicest people on the planet. They fed me meals, came to my sparsely attended speaking opportunity at the college library (which his wife arranged for me), visited when I signed books the next evening at the grocery store, and gave me directions to the tiny school I spoke at in the day in between.They didn't know me or anything about me, but it didn't make a difference to them. And, of course, while I was there, we talked about books (because writers always talk about books when they get together--it's like the law or something.)

Today I got word that JD's first book is finally in print. Check it out:

Zeld has never done anything grand with his life, like fighting a dragon or riding on a cloud to London to save the king. But in an age of magic and mystical creatures, his life is about to change as he emerges from exile to attend the Castles and Caverns School of Knighthood.

The Hesse family, on the other hand, has long awaited his return and are only too glad to greet him with innocent smiles on their faces and sharpened daggers behind their backs.

The book's gotten some great reviews including:

"JD Raisor has crafted an imaginative fantasy filled to the brim with magical characters, boyhood humor, lasting friendships, never-ending loyalty, and a battle of cunning powers. Castles and Caverns - Zeld and the Invaders is a rousing read from beginning to end." Cindy A. Christiansen, multi-published fiction author
"Zeld and the Invaders is an intricately woven story full of adventure and rife with danger." Cheri Chesley, author of The Peasant Queen.

Read an excerpt and learn more about the author on his website.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tons of awesome giveaways!

Okay, seriously, there are giveaways everywhere right now, so I thought I'd highlight a few.

First, my critique partner Tristi Pinkston's second book in the Secret Sisters cozy mystery series is coming out in about a month, and to celebrate, she's giving away something different EVERY day this month. Seriously, including an awesome stay at a hotel. She'll even be giving away a copy of either of my books in ebook format (though if you live in the U.S. and would really rather a hard copy, that could be arranged). Check it out here.

My friend Rebecca Blevins is celebrating the end of Nanowrimo, in which she finally wrote "The End" on her very first manuscript. Go Rebecca! She's giving away an adorable set of play food on her blog, great if you have little girls.

Stop by Valerie Ipson's blog to find out how to win one of three copies of Stephanie Humphrey's new book, Finding Rose, the first book for this romance writer. You can learn how to enter here.

Author and potter Carolyn Thayne Warburton is giving away this awesome pitcher she made in conjunction with the release of her new book, Sun Tunnels and Secrets. You can find out how to enter here.

Kathy is giving away a copy of Daron Fraley's YA book, The Thorn on her blog. You can check this out here.

Another critique partner of mine, Nichole Giles, is giving away a cute bracelet and a cell phone charm on her blog--but hurry because the contest ends tonight!

For any writers out there, Gotham Writer's Workshop is giving away a TON of fun writing equipment and paraphernalia on their website. The contest runs through January 1.

Also, LDS Women's Book Review does a big set of giveaways for great, clean books for the whole family every year called Countdown to Christmas. They had scads of books up for grabs, so definitely check it out here. They also do podcasts about the books they love with interviews with authors, which you can find here.

I already missed a bunch of great giveaways last month because I'm such a slacker, but there should be something here for just about everyone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What, December already?

I'm not sure where the past few weeks have gone except that they seem to have melted away much faster than the snow in my yard is likely to do. In the past few weeks I've completed the second draft of my Nano project and am more than halfway through a third draft (can I say how amazingly fast this has happened, earth-shatteringly fast, seriously.) I attended a seriously awesome EMT conference in Salt Lake City with teachers from around the country and participants coming from at least 7 states. I've worked a lot, dealt with a major snow storm last weekend, and actually found time to run on the ambulance a little too.

One of my online writing groups--the first one I ever joined--had 32 people participate in NaNoWriMo this year, at least half again as many as joined us last year. Our group's total words written for the month is, drumroll, 1,144,102. Yes, that is over seven figures. Incredible, I know. We had fifteen people actually write the full 50K or more, and at leas half of the others added a minimum of 20K to their manuscripts--not too shabby considering the time of year. Honestly, this was such a huge revelation for me. I've known for a few years that I work best when I can punch out a huge amount of writing in a short time, but November has always been so terrible for me, so I've never 'won' at NaNoWriMo. This year I finished my first draft in eight day, then went back to fill it out and add all of the extra details that make a story interesting, and I found that as the month progressed, it got harder and harder to get any writing done, simply because my schedule went completely out of whack.

As for the project itself, all I have to say is wow, I never knew writing mysteries could be so much fun! I have ideas for upcoming books in the series and look forward to peeling back more layers on some of the minor characters who will be playing bigger roles in later books. At the same time I'm a little freaked out. What if the next story I try ends up being totally bad? What if I get in a rut (can you call it a rut if there are only two books?) and can't come up with a fresh angle for the story? And can I say how excited I am with the twist at the end of this one--I totally thought I knew who the murderer was until I went to write the climax and then, hello, I was so wrong! I love it when the characters surprise me.

As for my conference, it was a blast. I admit, I had just come from working graveyard shifts several days in a row and then switched to early morning classes, which meant I struggled to stay awake a few times, even though the teachers were fantastic, and I didn't do anything in the evenings but sleep, which meant I got none of those fun errands done that I had planned (like seeing the new Harry Potter movie, which I still haven't done. My honey and I are going north tomorrow, maybe we'll catch it while we're up there). I came back on Saturday evening and went right back to graveyards that night, so it's taken until yesterday to get my sleep schedule back into a normal rhythm, but it was worth it.

The word blizzard was thrown around like crazy early last week because of a major storm that was coming through Utah. Strangely it nearly fizzled as it crossed south into Utah Valley, and left only a few inches down the rest of the state. Ironically, hardly anyone discussed the big storm on Sunday, and it left a good foot in my yard and made the roads barely passable (if you wanted to take double the usual time to get anywhere) the entire length of the state. Slide-offs, roll overs, and stranded drivers galore. Thankfully there were no major accidents in my area.

Now I look forward to Christmas, and I'm starting to think, hey, maybe I ought to buy a present or two because seriously, we've done zero shopping. How did it get to be December so quickly? Five o'clock already and I have a huge to-do list to accomplish before the city rolls up the sidewalks in an hour. I love small town life.