Cover Reveal: Zombie Girl

Sparky

 

Hi all! A while back I had the opportunity to beta read this YA story for Pippa (yes, I know, not quite my usual fare, but I can digress, right?), so I’m quite excited (see my tail wagging, anyone?) to share it’s progress with you. And as you can see, it’s got a cover.

First up, here’s the blurb:

Imagine waking up to find the world has ended, but unfortunately you’re not alone…

For Connor Innis, awakening from a year-long coma with no memories, no ability to move, and unable to speak was bad enough. Then he learns that a bioweapon set off a zombie apocalypse—for real—while he was sleeping, and the world he can’t even remember no longer exists.

Rehabilitation might be torture, but far worse awaits him outside. All too soon, the hospital Mentor declares him fit to leave but with nothing to go home to except a city full of mindless, flesh-eating monsters. That is, until he forms a strange relationship with the one he nicknames ‘Zombie Girl’.

And now I’ll give you the cover.

ZombieGirl_DeadAwakened_600x900

 

To whet your appetite further, here is the opening to the book.

He woke to sensations of warmth and heaviness. The relentless thump, thump of a heartbeat and the rushing sound of someone breathing unsteadily. It took time to recognize the heartbeat as his own, to connect the breathing to air moving in and out of his own chest.

How long had he been asleep?

He didn’t remember going to bed. He couldn’t open his eyes. Confusion muddled his thoughts. Wait. Why can’t I move?

Panic set his pulse racing, but a weight held him down. He choked on something pressing at the back of his throat. Nothing responded as he struggled to move. Damn, am I paralyzed? Trapped under something?

“Please try to remain calm. You are perfectly safe.”

Remain calm? What the fuck does this moron expect?

“Please try to calm yourself.”

He couldn’t place a gender to the voice, and the flat unemotional tone meant it was probably synthetic. What were they called? Mentors. That was it. An artificial entity called a Mentor. The knowledge seeped into his awareness like blood oozing through a shallow cut.

His struggles weren’t getting him anywhere except a quick trip to a heart attack. He forced himself to take slow breaths, to steady himself. Not because the voice said so, but because there was nothing else he could do. He swallowed, painfully aware of the pressure of a tube in his nose and down his throat. He tried to talk, and heard a weird gurgle instead of words.

“Please relax. Do not attempt to move or speak at this time. Once you are calm, I will explain your situation fully.”

So there you have it.

Thanks for letting me share your cover, Pippa. Looking forward to whatever happens next!

 

Ditching the Daily…

A couple of days ago I started clearing out my email account. Not for any particular reason. Just removing all the chaff, really. It’s crazy how many emails one can store up in nine years…

One of the things I realised, due to an email landing in my inbox where I could see it instead of diverting directly into a folder, was that I receive some daily emails that I *never* read. I’m not good at “daily”, whether it’s devotional books, emails, desktop calendars (my current one says 9th Feb…*goes to take a few sheets off*), blog posts, stories… the one that was in the inbox was from a website mailing list that mails out science fiction short stories every day. Yeah. I didn’t even get to reading those.

There is, however, one thing (apart from hygiene-related and social media, I have to admit) that I do manage to commit to daily, and that’s reading my Bible. Unless I’m totally wiped out, I am able to keep up with the reading plan I follow. So why carry around the rest of the baggage? I’m no longer going to even attempt to follow “dailies”. If one comes up that I follow, then fine, but I’m not going to beat myself over the head about them.

Print Release: Restless in Peaceville

Sparky

My friend Pippa Jay told me that one of her previous releases, a YA (Young Adult, for those wondering) paranormal called Restless in Peaceville, is coming out in print today. I’ve already seen her lurking on Facebook with print copies of it, and it looks beautiful (if one can call a book about zombies that…).

This book is one of very few first-person-voiced stories where the voice didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the book. So here’s an extract from near the beginning, to demonstrate.

I suppose I should count myself lucky they hadn’t started carving me up, and that I’d gone for an overdose rather than throwing myself in front of a truck or out of a window. I’m in damn good condition…for a corpse. Still in one piece as far as I can ascertain, and that ain’t easy to determine, let me tell you. You know how an arm or a leg goes after you’ve sat on it for a while, cutting off the circulation? But before the blood flow starts again and you get pins and needles? That numb heaviness? My whole body is like that. Like every part of me is full of lead.

Also, the not breathing is weird. I take a couple of breaths out of habit, for the familiar feeling of air moving in and out of my chest. After that I don’t bother. It takes too much concentration and there are other things I need to focus on. Like, what do I do next, for instance?

So, what, I’m just gonna lie here?
It’s an option, but I’d probably give the next person who opens up my drawer a heart attack. I don’t want another death on my conscience. Not when I already have my own.

There you go. Beautiful, isn’t it? I just love the self-deprecating tone, as well as the fresh perspective on the… death?… of a zombie (can’t say ‘life’ now, can I?).

I’ll leave you with the full print cover and the description of the book.

RestlessinPeaceville

Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead? 

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

Restless In Peaceville is a young adult zombie story with a twist, set in a Louisiana that never was, and released by Lycaon Press on the 20th August, 2014. Add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE. Sign up to Pippa’s no-spam newsletter HERE to stay up to date with releases, cover reveals, sales and giveaways for all her titles and more.

Cover Reveal: Keir by Pippa Jay

Sparky

 

Pippa has joined me at the fireside today to show us the new cover for Keir, a novel she first published almost three years ago. Welcome!

Thank you.

First up, where did you get this fabulous cover?

This is the painstaking and devoted work of my cover designer (editor, supporter and friend) Danielle Fine. She’s put an awful lot of time and effort into giving me something I love and that encompassed all the elements I wanted.

What does it say to you, being the person who created these characters?

To me, it sums up the main elements of the story perfectly. It’s very much a character driven SFR, so having the two main characters on the cover reflects that. Because it isn’t heavy SciFi, I think the astronomical background conveys that this is set somewhere otherwordly/alien, and also the paranormal and dark elements in the story without possibly frightening off a non-SF loving reader.

You’ve given us images in our minds for Keir and Quin now. Don’t you think it’s better to let the reader imagine for themselves?

I’m kind of torn on that. I do have a real thing for faces, and it’s something that attracts me to a book as a reader. I think because what I want most from a book is the characters and their conflicts, emotions, and drives. So to me, a face on a cover implies the story is centred on them maybe more than the setting (though I want a good setting too). I know some people prefer to imagine a character, and sometimes the face on the book might not match the character at all, but probably just as many are drawn to it as would be put off. Discussions on covers come up a lot among my colleagues, and the variation (and sometimes complete opposition) in opinions is huge. You really can’t please everyone. So, while I try to aim for something marketable, the cover also has to satisfy me. I spent a long time searching for images for Quin that I felt really represented her, while Dani actually found that image for Keir. She’s worked with me on this book right from the start, so she knows the characters very well, and knows the kind of thing I look for. Funnily enough, a friend sent me a piece of fan art for Keir and Quin, and his interpretation was very close to how I’d always imagined them, so I’m hoping my descriptions mean people will imagine them as they are on the cover regardless.

Thank you so much for joining me, and allowing me to share your new cover with my friends. All the best with the rest of the work in preparation for its release!

Thanks!

And here it is, the new cover of Keir. I know that it’s a book I’d certainly pick up off the shelf based on the cover.

Keirv2

Book Launch: The King’s Mistress

Sparky

 

A couple of weeks ago, Rachel Leigh Smith joined me to chat about her upcoming novel, The King’s Mistress, sequel to My Name is A’yen. Well, today is the day the book goes live! I for one cannot wait to read it.

TKM

Freedom has a cost. Can A’yen pay it without losing his soul?

Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king. A’yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But he’s not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. And his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A’yen fears for the young man’s sanity.

Upon returning to Titan, A’yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he’ll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he’ll live long enough to do it.

With A’yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.

Separated by light years, A’yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.

If you go to Rachel’s author page here on the blog, you can follow the links there to purchase a copy of the book.

Please note: I am not being paid or coerced to advertise for Rachel. I read My Name is A’yen (brilliant book), and I genuinely wish more people could read these fantastic books.

Meet Author Pippa Jay

Sparky

Hi everyone.

Please welcome Pippa Jay, who joins me today by the fire. Do help yourself to a cuppa and take a seat, Pippa.

Thanks. Ooo, latte – perfect. *grabs a cup and a cookie*

Now Pippa, could you tell us a bit about yourself, who you are, perhaps, or what makes you tick?

487970_396457363750310_1481028755_nI’m Pippa Jay, a devoted fan of all things scifi, and I have this incurable habit called writing.  I got addicted to science fiction after seeing Star Wars: A New Hope on TV for the first time and developing a crush on Luke Skywalker. I love chocolate, coffee, and spiced berry cordial, love to listen to alternative rock and, much to my family’s distress, sing along to it too. On the odd occasions I can drag myself away from my computer, I like to sew, draw a bit, take walks in the woods or on the beach, and I dance to keep fit.

I know you’ve been around the writing world for a while. How long have you been writing for?

Oh, I’ve been writing forever! I can remember badgering my dad to teach me how to write out my full name (quite a long, complicated affair), and I think once I’d got the hang of that I wrote all the time. Shaping letters, making those into words and then stories has been a lifelong obsession. But I only looked at possible publication in 2009.

When did you first publish anything?

It depends what you define as publish. In terms of stories, then technically it was a 3000 word scifi short called The Bones of the Sea. which I wrote it after complaining I didn’t seem to have the knack of writing shorts. Once it was done I felt it was too long to post on my blog. I’d been looking at ways of self-publishing, and decided Bones would be good to experiment with so I put it on Smashwords. It taught me a lot about the whole process of formatting, creating a cover, and the lengthy complications of satisfying the Smashwords Meatgrinder. That was in May 2011, a year before my debut novel released (which is the work I really consider my first official publication).

What genre or genres do you publish in?

Speculative fiction, with a preference for scifi with or without romance. Right now I have adult and young adult titles in SF, SFR, urban fantasy, superhero romance, cyberpunk and paranormal, and I’ll be releasing a YA dystopian romance in April. But after that I’m returning to home turf – science fiction romance, and lots of it!

Can you tell us some of what led you to those genres?

I think I mostly put it down to boredom and outside influences. As a teen, a lot of stories I started never got finished because I’d lose interest in them and move onto the next shiny idea. As an adult, I’ve learned to get that first complete draft down quick, then take my time turning it into a polished project. Boredom means I often switch genres for variety – I do worry this might put off some of my readers if they lean toward a particular genre, but on the other hand I hope it’ll attract some new readers to my books. And the challenge of writing new things will hopefully stop me ever getting stale and being boring. But I can never be sure that something I read or see or learn won’t set muse off on another mad, random project – like watching Warm Bodies set off a zombie book when I’ve hated zombies most of my life, or a new music album turning a SF story into a decopunk superhero one instead.  I can’t predict things like that. There’s no way I could tell you for sure what I might be working on tomorrow, and I kind of like that about my life.

I heard you’re working on a pretty big project at the moment. What is it, and are we expecting to see anything soon?

Ah, fishing for hints? If you mean the super-secret, writing-related-but-not-writing project…well, it’s going surprisingly quickly but I’ve reached a critical stage where it could all go horribly wrong (actually, I’m amazed it’s gone so well because I’m really winging it and doing new things) so it’s going to take a lot of time and focus. Which I may not have for a few weeks with all the publishing stuff going on for the next four months. I do have a self-imposed deadline of September for it though. Other than that I really can’t give a date for when the big reveal will happen, and just in case it’s a disaster I’m not giving any details away either!

It’s been great to have you stop by, and I know I’m looking forward to seeing the cover of Keir. Do wrap up against the cold on your way out!

Thanks for having me!

Meet Author Rachel Leigh Smith

Sparky

Hi everyone.

Today I’d like you to meet author Rachel Leigh Smith. She told me she’d drop by tonight for a chat, and of course some refreshments, on the proviso I had a warm fire going. Rachel, please help yourself to anything you want.

As this is your first time here, please tell us a little bit about yourself; who you are, what makes you tick, that sort of thing.

Rachel: Who I am is easy. First and foremost, daughter of the King. Everything else I am flows out of that. I’m the oldest of four, a Southern Belle to the core, very opinionated, and I embrace technology while holding onto my love of history.

I’m a writer, a daughter, a sister, and someone who hates being shoved in a box. The best way to get me to do something is to tell me it can’t be done a certain way. I take great delight in proving you wrong.

LOL! I’ll bear that in mind, Rachel :-)

To get straight to the bone, so to speak, I invited you over because you’ve got a book launch coming up on the 20th. Can you tell us a bit about the book?

TKMRachel: The King’s Mistress is a continuation of my first novel, My Name Is A’yen. It opens a month after the first one ends, and is the story of A’yen coming to terms with the change in who he is and figuring out how to understand and relate to the rest of his species. He’s an alien, you see, and his people have been slaves for 2,000 years.  He’s fighting to free them so they can return to their homeworld.

Before he can do that, he has to learn who they are. His background and childhood is very different from what of the Lokmane know. A’yen has been deeply loved by many people, something most Lokmane don’t experience.

A’yen gets kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. Without his wife. And he learns his task is harder than he expected. The Lokmane there don’t like or trust him. He has to prove himself to them, and earn their trust.

While he’s trying not to get himself killed by mouthing off to the wrong person, Fae, his wife, heads back to the Lokmane homeworld to continue the next phase of archaeological excavation and prove once and for all Rim One is Lok’ma.

Oh. I really do hope A’yen doesn’t get himself killed! That sounds awful – not to mention I hate seeing heroes killed off by authors…

As this is a sequel, could you tell us something about the first book, and perhaps some of the inspiration behind the story?

Rachel: I’m going to start with the inspiration. Because that’s key to understanding how important the book is to me.

I’m divorced, which is not something I ever imagined happening to me. No one does. The eleven months my marriage lasted put me through an emotional wringer and left me despondent. I lost my words for a year while I figured out who I am now. I had been in the habit of writing every day, and it was torture to be without them.

Once divorce proceedings actually started in 2012, it’s like I was free again. On what would have been my 3rd anniversary, I had a dream. It was a humanoid alien walking through a forest, saying what I thought was one word over and over. The word became two, Loks Mé. The alien was A’yen. I started writing it the afternoon of May 17th, 2012, because it was easy and coming out 3,000 and 4,000 words at a time. That’s a LOT of words in one day.

A’yen was grieving the loss of his dreams and the person he loved. While writing him out of his grief and watching him learn to live again, I came fully out of my grief and learned to live again.

And then the book turned into this massive thing with 3,000 years of human and Lokmane history, a hidden royal line, a conspiracy, an empire on the verge of catastrophic change, and more layers than I’d thought my brain capable of managing. Four of the first five are written, as of this chat, with another almost done, and three more brewing in my head.

Did I mention yet these are all big-ass books? They’re over 100,000 words each. And I’ve written them all since May of 2012.

To sum up, My Name Is A’yen is my heart and soul out there for the world to see. It’s a book born of tragedy, and infused with hope. It’s also a romance and A’yen’s journey to being able to trust and love again. And along the way he and his heroine, Fae, find A’yen’s lost homeworld and prove the Lokmane were once free. The next step is getting it back.

This definitely sounds like a series to watch.

What themes are you trying to convey to your readers?

Rachel: The importance of being who you are, no matter what. There’s only one you, and what you have to contribute is important.

I also want everyone who reads it to realize and accept that every life has value, simply because it exists. No matter how insignificant or unimportant a life appears to be, to someone else out there, that one life is their whole world.

You matter because you exist.

Wow. Powerful stuff there. Definitely sounds like my kind of book.

I know you’ve already had a few reviews in for The King’s Mistress. Has anything your readers said surprised you? Perhaps they spotted something you hadn’t noticed?

Rachel: The first reviews coming in have been a huge relief, actually. I have a bad case of what I’m calling second book fear. I’m afraid it won’t live up to the expectations I set with the first one and readers won’t be as invested. Early reviews are assuring me my fear is largely unfounded.

Glad to hear that. Nothing like calming those fears.

It’s been great to have you over. Don’t forget to put on a few layers before you head outside.

Rachel: Right now I need a rain coat and rubber boots! My yard’s a lake at the moment. Winter in Louisiana is also known as Deluge. The other three seasons are Almost Summer, Summer, and Still Summer.