Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Post by L.M. Preston, Author of FLUTTER OF LUV

Hello, everyone! Today I'm excited to feature a guest post by author L.M. Preston, whose new YA novel FLUTTER OF LUV releases on July 28th. In this post, she discusses why authors do bad things to good characters. Take it away, L.M.!



While hosting #YALITCHAT one night, we chatted about Author Confessions where we all confess to the evil things we’ve done to our main characters.

Let’s face it, growth is painful. Very painful. In order to develop and grow our characters through the reader’s eyes – we must create trials, tribulations, and odd situations for them. Those situations should be realistically displayed and work within the story but should be used to show either strength, growth, reaction, thoughts, or set-ups that build the relationship with the character and the reader.
Also, we authors create these situations because it’s just darn fun :-D Oops! Did I say that?

Well, you may as well hear the truth from me personally. Here are my confessions:
FLUTTER OF LUV - I created the mean ‘friend-emy’ Poochie who got a sick pleasure out of bringing Dawn, the main character to an allround low.

THE PACK – (Upper YA) – I confess to making Shamira (my MC) blind, kidnapping her brother, shooting her, stabbing her, beating her up, trying to blow her up with landmines…sigh, I’m so bad.

BANDITS – (Upper YA) – I confess to murdering Daniel’s father (my MC) trying to eat him, burning him, breaking his fingers, sucking the blood out of his brother and girlfriend, kidnapping his family, trying to burn him in a boiling sea…and I haven’t even really gotten started with all the naughty things I’ve done to him.
Truly I would be sorry if doing these things didn’t create my flawed, a bit on the angry side characters and turn them into heroes – but it was just too darned fun!

EXPLORER X – ALPHA – (Middle Grade Series) – I confess to genetically altering my Aadi (my MC), making his parents betray him by keeping an awful secret, cutting him, enslaving him, blackmailing him, altering his body, kidnapping his crush, capturing him in war…to name just a few.

In doing all these awful things to our main characters, we help them grow, take the readign on an adventure, and create a way for there to be a connection.

by: L.M. Preston, www.lmpreston.com

L.M.'s TOP 10
My Top 10 Addictions:
1. Chocolate
2. Coffee with Chocolate
3. Playing hide and seek with my kids
4. Daydreaming
5. Talking to myself outloud
6. Going to the movies and thinking I could do better
7. Escaping in a book I'm reading
8. Going to the beach
9. Baking cakes, cookies, and pasteries
10. Playing board games


Twitter Party:
Friday, July 27th, 5pm - 6pm, use hashtag #FlutterOfLuv and follow @Lm_Preston

Facebook Party:
Saturday, July 28th, 12pm-9pm EST http://www.facebook.com/events/340720479326022/?context=create
Blog Tour Stops (Past, Present, & Future): LM Preston’s Ramblings - 7/13/2012

Indies Unlimited - 7/13/2012

A Little Bit Of R&R - 7/13/2012

Doreen McGettigan - 7/17/2012

Writer’s Alley - 7/17/2012

I Want To Read That - 7/18/2012

Cheryl Rainfield - 7/18/2012

The Daily Harrell - 7/19/2012

Word Forge Books - 7/20/2012

Searching For An Escape - 7/21/2012

The Write Game - 7/23/2012

Stephen Penner - 7/24/2012

Black Words White Pages - 7/26/2012

Curiosity Key - 7/27/2012

SomeoneWhoActuallyCares - 7/27/2012

LM Preston’s Ramblings - 7/28/2012

Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways - 7/23/2012

Tribute Books Mama - 7/24/2012

The Character Connection - 7/25/2012

The Plot Thickens - 7/26/2012

City Girl Who Loved To Read - 7/27/2012

Twitter Release Party! - 5pm-6pm use hashtag #FlutterOfLuv

FACEBOOK Release Party! - 7/28/2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Legal Thrilled

My latest book was just released. Yay!

It's titled PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE and is my first legal thriller novel. (Background/confession: My day job is prosecutor, so the hero of INNOCENCE is also a prosecutor, Assistant D.A. David Brunelle.) The ebook is selling well, already a Top 100 legal thriller on Amazon in both kindle and overall sales. Here's the cover (which I also designed) and the "blurb":

Homicide prosecutor David Brunelle faces the most difficult case of his career. An innocent young girl is murdered in a heinous, unforgivable way. The only evidence against the killer is the full confession of his accomplice--another young girl he also victimized. But the accomplice is charged with the murder as well, which means she has the right to remain silent. And she's so scared of the killer, she refuses to take a deal to testify against him. Brunelle can't just let the murderer walk, but how can he get a conviction when he has no admissible evidence and the killer is protected by the PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE?

And if you like the novel, I also have out two David Brunelle short stories: BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT and CASE THEORY, each only 99 cents on kindle.

For more info about all my books, visit www.stephenpenner.com

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Scottish Write

I woke up to some exciting news today. My paranormal mystery novel SCOTTISH RITE cracked the top 3,000 books on Amazon kindle. Ranking was #2,834. That's the highest any of my books have ever ranked. When I first wrote the book, I had many industry pros tell me they liked the story but didn't think it would sell. I'm glad they were wrong. :)

Another exciting thing is the fact that the sequel, BLOOD RITE, cracked the top 10K. So not only is SCOTTISH RITE selling, but readers like it enough to seek out more. I've even started to receive emails from (I can't believe I get to use this word) fans, asking me whether I've started work on the third book.

Well, the answer is yes. And this morning's news just makes me want to get going on it all the more. I have other writing projects I'm trying to finish and others I've agreed to start, but I think Maggie Devereaux needs to start taking priority.

That being said, I will endeavor to keep you updated on my progress for the third RITE book. I had planned to title it DARK RITE, but now I think it will be LOST RITE. That better suits what I set out to do when I first began writing these books.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to blog about how well LOST RITE is selling. But no matter what, the absolutely most awesome thing is this: people are reading my book. Wow.

See more of my writing and art at stephenpenner.com

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Adventure Begins!

Actually, the adventure began last Friday, December 2, when I released my sci-fi thriller novel MARS STATION ALPHA on Kindle--all by myself! This is the follow up report to my last two blogposts, wherein (real word, properly used) I first contemplated following this course, then announced my intention to do so.

I couldn't be happier with my decision.

My sales are good and I can see the Amazon borg stretching out, connecting my book to similar works and similar authors. More importantly, I figured out how to format my own work for kindle, nook, and even paperback. Most importantly, I'm having fun.

So what's next?

Look for two more releases from me this month. THE DEAD SHOE SOCIETY short story anthology was just released December 12! It features stories from seven different authors, in different genres, with the only common elements being death and shoes. My contribution is a legal thriller titled Lady Justice Wears Heels. I've read all of these stories and already one of them may be my favorite story of all time. This is an amazing anthology. Don't miss it.

Then, in time for Christmas, I'll be releasing my next novel: SCOTTISH RITE. It's a paranormal murder mystery, set at the University of Aberdeen in the Scottish Highlands. Our hero is Maggie Devereaux, an American exchange student, who must solve a series of ritualistic killings before she becomes the next victim.

Thanks for stopping by. Check out MARS STATION ALPHA and THE DEAD SHOE SOCIETY, and keep your open for SCOTTISH RITE.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Future of MY Writing Industry

Last week I blogged about the future of the writing industry, and in particular the future of my writing. Now I will officially announce the decision I hinted at then.

I will be releasing my new science fiction novel, MARS STATION ALPHA, all by myself. (*listens/hopes for applause*) It will be available this Saturday, December 3, in Kindle format, followed very shortly by paperback, Nook and Smashwords.

So, let the shameless self-promotion begin:

The colonists of the first space station on Mars have vanished.

Captain John Stanton leads a second team to the Red Planet, unsure what he’ll find. Originally assigned merely to relieve the first group, Stanton must now figure out what happened to them, and keep the same fate from befalling his own crew. As he investigates, the mystery deepens and the dangers multiply: remorseless sandstorms, virulent bacteria... perhaps even ancient Martian ghosts.

Stanton’s mission changes from relief, to rescue, to simple escape.

This will be the first of several novels I will be releasing over the next few months. In fact, MARS STATION ALPHA includes a preview of my upcoming legal thriller, AGGRAVATING FACTORS. The characters from that novel also appear in the soon to be released DEAD SHOE SOCIETY short story anthology.

I hope you enjoy the book, and I look forward to updating everyone on my journey into the exciting new world of publishing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Future of the Writing Industry

Read that title again. I said "Writing Industry" not "Publishing Industry." There have been a lot of articles and blog posts lately about the future of the publishing industry. I think the future of the publishing industry can be summed up in one word: Amazon. All the handwringing about its future stems from the fact that "publishing" boils down to taking someone else's work and putting it into a package that the consumer can enjoy. That was an "industry" when you needed a commercial building to house a printing press. Now it's a software program.

So this is about the future of writing, and specifically the future of my writing. To fully understand, here's a bit about my writing past, present, and future, following by a teaser non-announcement. Enjoy.

The Past
In 2000, I wrote my first novel. I didn't tell a lot of people though because unless you got your novel published you weren't really a writer. At least that's what I thought. I was fortunate to know a guy who'd had a couple of novels published by Simon & Schuster. His advice was clear: (1) get an agent, and (2) mine doesn't handle your genre.

So I queried agents--lots of them. And I got some full requests--several of them. But ultimately no bites. My story was a mystery with a supernatural twist. Commonplace today, but in 2000 the only thing I could compare it to were some cozies with a talking cat. And remember, this was back when querying--and submitting--was by mail. It was time-consuming and expensive. Moreover, agents expected 3-month exclusives. After a year, I had no agent but had busied myself writing the sequel. A year later, still no agent, but we'd had our first child. Whatever extra time and money I had couldn't be spent on trying to find a publisher. I saved the files on my old iMac, and stopped writing.

The Present
In 2009, two important things happened. One, I wrote a silly story for my son about a goofy paleontologist and a couple of kids travelling back to dinosaur times. Two, I listened to a radio show called Coast to Coast AM, where the guest said, "It's easy to get published anymore. Just write something, then post it on a website called publishersmarketplace.com." So I did, and I snagged a publisher: Nimble Books. I was published.

What I didn't fully realize was that my writing hadn't changed, but the publishing industry had. Nimble Books didn't and couldn't have existed in 2000. But with Amazon and print-on-demand, the big publishers didn't control everything anymore. Not surprisingly, agents no longer required 3-month exclusives. And genres that hadn't existed 10 years earlier will all over Amazon.com. Micropublishers were flourishing, and giving opportunities to writers like me.

But not totally understanding that, I figured it was just that my talent lay in children's books, not adult fare. Until a writer a met through Twitter, the incomparable Shelly Picarella, invited me to write a short story for an anthology she was putting together about the seven deadly sins. Not exactly kid stuff. But I agreed, and wrote a decidedly non-children's story about Wrath. What mattered most was what came when the other authors read it: they liked it. As in, "Hey, this is really good." Maybe I was an okay writer after all.

Then I got involved in a similar short story collection with some different writers. Again I wrote an adult piece. Again the other writers said it was good. I decided to believe them.

The Future
Throughout 2010 and 2011, I wrote not only those two short stories, but two novels, plus some more children's stories. I wasn't entirely sure what to do with them all. Querying agents takes forever, and the odds are long, and I wasn't even sure anymore why I wanted an agent.

Then I read these blog posts by Jonas SaulMichael A. Stackpole, and Bob Mayer.

I think I've finally decided on my future as an author. Come back in a week and I'll share my decision with you. In the meantime, what to do you think is the future of the writing industry?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Evolution of an Illustration

I recently sent "Prof. Barrister's Dinosaur Mysteries #5: THE CASE OF THE CRESTED CRYPTOCLIDUS" off to my publisher, Nimble Books. Yay! But as an author-illustrator, sending a work to my pub means more than just the manuscript; it also means the illustrations.

Now, just like the text, illustrations can go through edits. Sometimes, an illustration is perfect (or pretty close) the first time I draw it. Other times it needs to be fixed. Here's an example from THE CRESTED CRYPTOCLIDUS that I thought was kind of interesting.

Here, one of the books' heroes, intrepid 3rd grade dinosaur expert Nate, is swimming for his life from a giant Jurassic predator known as Liopleurodon.

Very rough, but conveys the idea. I knew when I drew it that I'd want to improve it. When I returned to this illustration, I realized two things: (1) I liked Nate's expression and body position (which is an extension of his expression), but (2) the illustration lacked the urgency and peril I wanted.

I realized the solution lay in the scale. Nate was too big compared to what I was trying convey as a gigantic marine monster. So I simply shrank Nate down (reduced on a photocopier) and tried again.

That led to also adding depth to the Liopleurodon's mouth. Much better. But still not quite right.

The Liopleurodon's snout was too blunt, and not like the scientific illustrations I'd seen. (I pride myself on paleontological accuracy). So I transformed it from stubby and dog-like to sleek and crocodilian.

Way scarier. Note that Nate hasn't changed from the original sketch.

Now just a matter of cleaning & adding color. Voila! The final illustration:
Very worth the edits, I think.

THE CRESTED CRYPTOCLIDUS is scheduled for December release, with this and 17 other full color illustrations. For information on the first four books (including links to purchase them!), check out http://www.professorbarrister.com/.

Bonus question: You may have noticed something about the Liopleurodon's nostrils. Free Prof. Barrister sketch to the first person who posts a comment correctly explaining what it is and why it was important to the animal.