Exercise…Doesn’t Mean You Have to Stop Eating or Smoking

You know those super fit people who obsess about being super fit? You spend two minutes talking with them and in their eyes you can see them thinking, “I’d much rather be doing lunges with forty pound weights on my back right now.” Or…you text them early early in the morning about going shopping with you and they text back, “That would cut short my twenty mile run so do you mind if we speed walk at the mall?” Or, when you walk into Arby’s, they send you a telepathic guilt trip about the fact that you’re eating curly fries and a shake and they won’t eat anything that doesn’t have vitamins in it. Vitamins!

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But then again, some people are on the other end of the spectrum.

The other day I was running at a park. And then I….okay. OKAY! Fine. I’ll be honest. I was more like slow jogging/fast walking…I was enjoying the nice evening and the quiet and the fact that no toddlers were clinging to my ankles (have you ever tried running with toddlers clinging to your ankles? It’s not as easy as it sounds!)

I kept lapping this lady, who was puffing smoke like a ad exec in the 60’s:

Sure, whatever, she can smoke. This is a park after all! But then I kept watching her and realized she wasn’t just meandering around the park. She was walking around the park, quickly. Smoking! While exercising!

But I can’t judge her motivations. Maybe she things the exercise will negate the bad effects of smoking? All I know is that smoking shows an obvious sign of lack of wanting to quit smoking.

Now what would be REALLY funny would be watching someone running while eating a big mac. That’d make me feel much less stupid about running and eating Jalapeño Cheetos at the same time!

The Revealing…

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So…hi…um, sorry to keep you waiting. I just don’t want any mistakes, like that time I was unveiling a car and I tripped. That hurt.

Or that time I was really excited to unveil something under a huge green tarp but it ended up to just be a rock. Sadz.

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So seriously, what’s about to be revealed? The cover of:

The Silver Sickle

By: Me!

Published by Stonehouse Ink.

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by Cory Clubb of Go Bold Designs.

I feel so excited about this cover that I can’t talk about it properly. So I have to interview myself to get a few good objective words in.

What is on the cover?

There is a cogsman, one of the King’s stalwart clockwork soldiers–he’s a key character in the plot. There’s a sickle, the weapon used by the evil alien Amar. And there’s a gear thrown in there because it’s steampunk.

Did you control every aspect of the cover design?

Heck no! I know my limits. God did not give me the design gene. I’m ferociously terrible at design and graphics and stuff like that. I’m so glad Aaron Patterson is good at it, because WOW. I never couldn’t come up with anything this great.

Tell me, what do you think about the cover?

*unintelligible chattering with profuse hand movements and laughing/crying with happy tears* Right?! Basically, really excited and kind of shocked. Like this, with more happiness:

What’s The Silver Sickle about, anyway? 

It’s a YA science fiction/steampunk about a girl trapped in a harem who must take down an extraterrestrial regime. It’s Esther meets District 9. With robots.

When does the book come out?

July. But the e-book version may be available before that. So keep your eyes peeled and Kindles at the ready.

p.s. You can spread the cover like a virus in Thailand. The side effects aren’t nearly so painful.

Cupcake Mania

Perhaps you’ve seen them. Perhaps you’ve been there. Perhaps you’ve experienced the full hysteria of what it means to be with cupcake maniacs. They are found … wait for it … in cupcake stores.

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A few weeks ago I was in the middle of it.

My older sister’s birthday party was at a cupcake store. I said “yes!” to her invitation, of course. I had no idea what I was getting into. She tried to warn me: “Cupcakes by Liz is only open on the weekends,” she said. Little did I know what that meant.

First, there was the lack of parking.

Second, there was the swarming mess of bodies running, panting, lunging for the door. They looked a little like the zombie horde in the World War Z trailer, except much better dressed.

Once I got in (thankfully with all of my appendages attached) I found my crowd. They barely noticed me. Their shoulders were tight, their mouths watering, their eyes were bright and glazed and glued to the glass display case before them. Behind the glass were cupcakes sitting grandly on columns as if they were the Crown Jewels. If the crowd had been any shorter I’m sure their noses would’ve been pressed to the glass.

As the line got smaller, each woman and man rushed to the counter, pointing and explaining what they wanted while never taking their eyes off of the cupcakes, all but grabbing the cashier and shouting, “HAND THEM OVER NOW.” I imagined them emptying their purses onto the counter saying, “take all I have I don’t care. Just give me a frickin’ cupcake!”

I finally understood that this wasn’t just a cupcake store. It was a Cupcakes by Liz store. It wasn’t just food it was an experience, as if you were going to a spa for your mouth! Erm, okay … that joke didn’t work. I know, I know. Let me try again. It wasn’t just food it was an experience, as if she delivered salvation to your mouth. Crap! Okay, that joke is dead. Shut up. Let’s get on with it.

So I ordered my cupcake (it was strawberry, with raspberry frosting), handed over my $59.99 (give or take) and sat down to wait with the party in breathless anticipation. This cupcake was going to change my life.

You see, I’d never really GOT cupcakes before. I knew about them, and loved them a little, but didn’t really BELIEVE in them like these folks did. Honestly, every time I eat a cupcake I end up thinking, “Geez that would’ve been better as a cake.”

I get cake. I know cake and love cake and believe in cake. Not so with cupcakes. I’m sorry if we believe differently but it’s true and I hope it won’t change our relationship any and don’t get offended when I post about cake on Facebook okay? I’d do anything for cake. I’d jump out of a cake any day, for free, dressed in my nun’s habit.images

(my jumping-out-of-cake attire)

Anyways, we held our breath as we waited, enviously eyeing every other customer who got a cupcake before us, until finally an Angel of Cupcake delivered us our fare, beautifully displayed on china with chocolate glaze and edible pearls decorating the plate.

The rest of the party chowed down as if they’d not eaten in days (oh, did I mention it was suppertime? I felt like the biggest hypocrite in the world when I told my kids I was leaving to go have cupcakes for supper). I tentatively took my first bite, not know how I’d be changed. Would I finally get cupcakes? Would I finally feel the ravenous love that everyone else had for them?

And you know what?

I thought, “Geez this would be better as a cake.”

Cupcakes. I still don’t get them.

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Oh, and go check this out:

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Go pick up BREAKING STEELE for $0.99, it’s only for a limited time! And go check out all the fabulous prizes and fantastic other books priced SO agreeably.

Do you get cupcakes?

The Revealing!

This is going to be my most revealing post yet. Everything’s coming off.

I’m talking about the cover reveal for Twisting Steele of course. OF COURSE.

I love the feeling right before you pull something away. The anticipation. The drama. The breathless excitement. The people shouting, “What is under that cover?!”

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What’s in there?

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What could it be?

images-2Twisting Steele? Is that you?

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What could it possibly BE?

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Okay. I’ll not keep you in suspense any longer. You’ll gnaw off all your pretty nails and I’m not that cruel.

*drumroll please* I’d like to introduce the cover for TWISTING STEEEEEEELE:

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It can already be pre-ordered on Amazon. I’m so happy about the cover. I love it. Especially the color. And the girl’s hair. And…oh yeah…my name!

What is it about, you ask? Sarah and her best friend Mandy going on a vacation to Rio, and they get entangled with a group of 5 female micro-kidnappers. After a kidnapping gone horribly wrong, Sarah is determined to bring them to justice. Yet things aren’t exactly as they seem, and Sarah has to bend and twist in order to see things as they really are.

Since I’m as pleased as punch I’d really like to give something away! Hm…what should it be? Michael said I couldn’t give away my house or car, and I need my laptop … and the kids keep me company … and y’all probably won’t be interested in kitchen utensils or my old journals … so I’ve decided it’s going to be an e-book copy of BREAKING STEELE.

That’s right! Anyone who writes a comment below will be entered to win the first book in the Sarah Steele Thrillers series.

What kind of comment should you leave? Well, you could just write your name and you’d be eligible. But since this is about covers than you should write about your favorite cover!

UPDATE: Congrats, MalindaLou for winning a copy of Breaking Steele! Please email me at: ellieannwrites@gmail.com

Friday Favorites: Steam Patriots

Steam Patriots. Think Revolutionary War meets Steampunk. Yeah, you heard right. Think George Washington versus airships, and Benjamin Franklin with a lightning gun! They’ve already got their gig up at Kickstarter and we need to make this idea a reality!

The producer, Richard Monson-Haefel says, “Steampunk set in the American Revolution has never been done before, but we’ve got a fantastic story, remarkable art, and the drive to see it through.” I believe him. After watching his video interviews, I’m convinced he has quality storymaking in mind. And you know how much I love transmedia? Well, this story is coming out as an interactive app! Complete with illustrations, animations, and music. I can’t wait to see it.

The Steam Patriots story follows Felix, a young man who crosses the thirteen colonies battling Red Coats while meeting some of the most important historical figures in US History. Felix becomes the protégé of Benjamin Franklin, a spy for George Washington, and a boon companion to the patriot-pirate John Paul Jones.

It sounds really great. I’ve already donated. Here’s their info:

Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/369012565/steam-patriots

Steam Patriots website: http://www.steampatriots.com/

Facebook: SteamPatriots

Twitter: @steampatriots

 

Addendum:

This kickstarter has since been cancelled. The project didn’t have enough backers, which is sad! I hope it comes together one day! But until then, I can’t wait to see the other project, Steampunk Holmes come out early next year.

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Meg Gardiner: WRITERMOM, Chocolate Lakes, and Ransom River

I first met Meg at TerribleMinds, and was impressed with how unterrible her mind was. She’s quick and witty and humble and the kind of person you want for a best friend.
So then I did what any self-respecting fan does and started stalking her online. Turns out she’s just as awesome as she’s cracked up to be.
She’s raised children (I have to list this as one of the highest of accomplishments. Right now I have toddlers and it seems every other minute they’re trying to get in the knife drawer or throw themselves off a high precipice.)
She’s published ten novels.
She’s a hot cross country runner.
She’s a three time Jeopardy! champion (that’s right).
She graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School.

She practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara.

So yeah . . . quite an impressive resume for anyone to have, but for a woman as gracious and funny and beautiful as her . . . let’s just say she got her fair share of awesome during her dip in the gene pool.

Even Stephen King backs me up on this one. He wrote a glowing review of her work at EW.com and made sure her books were published on American soil. So thank you, Mr. King, for letting us ‘merican folks get a hand on such quality storytelling.

And she’s here with me today in cyber space! That’s right. I rolled out the red carpet (my way of saying I vacuumed), and made my world-famous (a slight exaggeration there) home made eggrolls and asked her a few questions about life, the universe, and everything.

Without further adieu (which means none of you should go away now) may I introduce to you Meg Gardiner:

I’ve heard on the streets that your first novel was a tragic romance about Indy car racing. And there were lots of explosions and tears. It sounds GREAT to me. I love fast cars. Why didn’t it work? 

Aside from the fact that I was sixteen, and knew far more about Indy cars than I did about romance, the main problem was the “tragic” part. The heroine fell in love with a dashing race driver, who immediately drove into a wall at 200 mph, burst into flames, and died. She mourned, but eventually found the courage to love again… another race driver, who promptly drove his car into a wall at 200 mph, burst into flames, and died. By page 63 I had killed all the men in the novel. End of story.

Nothin’ says ROMANCE like a fiery car crash

You came from a house that encouraged both reading and writing. How can parents instill a love of reading/writing in their kids?
Read to them! Keep books around the house. Encourage them to create – on paper, in words, and by playing. Tell bedtime stories.
Name the book you’ve read the most.

The Black Stallion. Followed closely by Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing.

Name one of your favorite childhood books.

See above. And I don’t mean Stein on Writing. My friends and I checked The Black Stallion — and all the books in the Black Stallion series — out of the school library so often that our names filled the check out card.

I bet this picture makes Meg’s heart melt.

Speaking of children, I hear you have some. How on earth do you juggle being a WRITERMOM (you need a cape with that on it) and … does it perhaps involve duct tape, hiding in closets, or buying one of those boxes that display moving pictures? 

When the kids were little, writing was extremely sporadic. The longest piece I got published was 700 words. But once they were all in school, I knew it was time to put up or shut up, and write the novel I’d been thinking about for years. The school bus came at 7:50 and brought them home at 3:45. That’s when I wrote. Of course, once I got a novel published, and started working to deadlines, things got more complicated. The kids would instant message me from the next room – things like, FOOD? And I once came out of my office to discover they’d stuck a note to the door. It read, “Warning: she eats her young.”

When are you perfectly at peace?
When all the kids are home and everybody’s hanging out in the kitchen, talking, laughing, and getting dinner ready.
Do you have a favorite book you’ve written, or are they like your kids in that you like them all equally?
I don’t have a favorite book, but I have favorite scenes from various books I’ve written. Such as the scene where Evan Delaney finds an FBI agent hogtied to her bed, stark naked, in Mission Canyon. The wedding sequence in Jericho Point (which involves not just a wedding but a fight, an ice sculpture catastrophe, a car crash, and the marriage-shy heroine being literally pursued by a wedding band). The London chase scene in Kill Chain. The helicopter crash in The Dirty Secrets Club. The monkey revenge scene in The Liar’s Lullaby. All these involve moments of real satisfaction and were fun to write.
Click to read scene about hogtied FBI agent
Click to read about wedding fiasco scene.
Click to read about London chase scene
Click to read about the helicopter crash
Click to read about the monkey revenge scene
Okay, let’s pretend I’m your psychologist (I charge $500 fake dollars an hour, btw). Tell me your greatest weakness as a writer, and tell me about your biggest struggle.
I want my characters to be happy. I want them to love each other and live satisfying lives and rescue kittens and sing sweet songs on the beach as the sun goes down. Which would be great in real life – but in a thriller, it’s boring. So I have to stop protecting the characters and let the chips fall where they may.
You’ve said you used to write by the seat of your pants, but now you plan ahead. Tell me about the preparation process that goes on before you write the first word to the novel?

Two months of brainstorming the big idea for the story, plus research, character sketches, story development, better story development, revised story development, more research, and then… Chapter 1.

In your opinion, what makes a successful author?

The ability to grip readers and give them a deep, surprising, satisfying emotional experience through the story.

Tell me three authors I should know about:

Jeff VanderMeer (dark fantasy, SF, Weird, Steampunk – and he can write scenes that truly exhilarate.)

Megan Abbott (thriller/mystery author with a deft, dark touch and a beautiful way with prose.)
James Lee Burke (James Lee Burke. What else do I need to say?)

If you had to swim across a sea of any beverage, what would it be?
Melted chocolate. Because I’d never make it across an entire sea, and I might as well die happy.
What does your writing space look like?

A room with wall-to-wall bookcases, a good office chair, and our old kitchen table. Which looks as if a moving van dropped a 20 foot container of papers, pens, pencils, and random notes on it from a great height.

What does it take to be a good editor (whether self-editor or editor for someone else).

A sense of the story – the pulsing wire that should run through a piece from beginning to end. The ability to see the possibilities an author hasn’t spotted, or has only developed vaguely. An ability to sharpen a story in a way that amplifies the author’s own voice. An ability to explain all this to the writer in a way that makes the writer eager to revise.

Have any new projects? What are some things to look forward to on your horizon?
My next novel is a thriller called The Shadow Tracer. It’s about going off the grid and disappearing. On the run. With a five-year-old.
And . . . the final question to end all questions . . . if you had to choose between any apocalypse (solar, comet, environmental changes, zombie, robots, or alien) which would it be?! (and why)
Solar, because it has the best music. At least we’d go out singing the Beatles: “Good Day, Sunshine.”
Now go meet Meg herself, and pick up one of her novels. It will be one of the best decisions of your life. Right after that good decision you made about learning how to make French bread and watching the entire first season of LOST in one day.
MegGardiner.com | Visit Meg on Facebook and Twitter | @MegGardiner1

Friday Favorites: iPhone for Beginners

Some people just don’t got it.

You know . . . the adapt-at-technology, intuitively-unerstands-electronics talent? Yeah. Some people have it. They started programming at age 3. Some people don’t got it. Like, they have trouble sending emails.

You might know some people like that.

You might be someone like that.

However, that is NO reason to not buy an iPhone.

 

So many people are intimidated by the iPhone and all its capabilities.
This book is for them.
In a concise series of instructions, this book takes you through everything from setting up your iPhone and iTunes account, to finding a ringtone, to adding contacts, finding apps . . . and making calls. The language is easy to read. It’s as if someone was sitting next to you explaining everything.
There are Nerd Notes, which give you helpful tidbits into getting more out of the iPhone. Even though I’ve had an iPhone for 2 yrs, I learned new shortcuts and ways to use my phone.
I highly recommend this book to any beginner iPhone users.

Oh, and it’s written by my husband, Michael Soderstrom. Did I mention that? Yeah, it is. That means he’s a published author before me. Does he ever mention that? Yeah, he does. And for your information, I am dealing with my jealousy about the issue.

So . . . if you have someone in your life about to buy an iPhone who desperately needs step-by-step instructions, OR if your mom, dad, sister-in-law, friend, dog-groomer, dentist, or friend’s niece keep asking you questions about how to use their iPhone . . . make them buy this book.

Just click on the picture to check out the book.

And have you seen the new iPhone?! Holla! It’s incredible. My iPhone suddenly seems like a drunk third cousin who has no idea what’s going on.

Friday Favorites: Shrilugh, Myndi, and a heckuva fantasy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exciting? Adventurous? Awesome? YES.

That is Shrilugh, in three words.

Within the first few pages of starting Shrilugh, I knew this was something special. The story takes off right away, grounding you in the fantasy world and attaching you to characters that are so alive.

I had the joy of interviewing word warrior, Myndi Shafer, about her debut fantasy novel. She’s a big-time writer and a big-time mom. Much like her novel, three words to describe her are: exciting, adventurous, and awesome.

Are you a mom?

Yes. Big time. Four kiddos, from 10 years to 4 months. Our house is a never-ending circus with a missing ringmaster.

Are you a writer?  

Yes, although it’s almost always a hyphenated title. Sometimes it’s ‘writer-nose-wiper’. Other times it’s ‘writer-housekeeper’. Most often it’s ‘writer-chef-mommy’ because…well, I have four kids. We go through more food than a herd of gestating elephants. Those brief moments when my title isn’t hyphenated are wicked productive, though. If you can call sleeping productive.

 

How can you do both at the same time, and does it involve duct tape, cheerios, or hiding in closets? (no judgement here, we know that sacrifices have to be made for art.)

Oh, man. Adapt or die, right? I’ve had to learn to tune out the chaos, but it’s an imperfect method. When the crazy reaches fever-pitch I’ve been known to hide out in the bathroom to work, or in the back of the Mommy Rocket (aka, mini-van). Luckily, I’ve got a husband who’s more than supportive, and he willingly wrangles the kids in the evenings and on the weekends. Not to brag or anything, but he’s a great cook, too. And he helps with laundry. He’s also got other aspects that I’m fond of, but I’ll leave those up to your imagination.

Why do you write?  

I think the simplest answer to this question is, because I decided to. I didn’t always want to be a writer – it wasn’t anywhere on my radar screen a few years ago. I remember exactly when I decided to. The Hubster and I were in the car, on a date, and I remember saying to him, “I think I’m going to write a book.”

Why did you write this story? 

There’s this silo near the farm where I grew up with a ladder that extends past the top that looks like a door. Ever since I was little I’ve wondered where that door went. It was on that date with the Hubster that I decided I would finally climb the silo and find out. (Figuratively. I’m actually terrified of heights.)

Do you have a favorite character in it, and why? 

Ach. I’ve typed and erased an answer to this question like three times. I have a definite favorite, but if I tell you who or why it’ll totally spoil the next book. I’ll give you a hint: It’s a ‘he’, and he has a big something to do with the poem at the start of the book.

What is one of your favorite paragraphs in the book (please share:)

I had to really think hard about this one. I like this part because it’s the first time that we really see that Rein’s world is different than our own.

They followed a curvy, gravel path that led away from his house, edging up to a small pond, whose water gently bubbled up in the middle of it.  Rein looked at Æydan, who watched it with a mildly curious expression on her face.

“It’s a spring,” he told her, deciding they had found their stopping point.  “The start of the Prisca River.” He pointed to the other end of the pond, where it gave way and became a small stream, its water trickling happily over rocks and stones on its way to the Eoghanréad Sea.

Æydan walked to the grass near the side of the stream, arms wrapped around herself as she took it in quietly, just as she had the mountains and his garden.  Rein followed her, crouching by the pond, dipping his hands into the water.  Without drying them, he stood and turned back to Æydan, who looked at him in surprise as he gently took her hand in his, rubbing the moisture from the water onto her fingers.“Taste,” he instructed her, quietly.  Æydan stared, obviously thrown off by his odd demand, but after a moment’s hesitation, put her fingers to her mouth.  Rein was overcome by a surge of bittersweet pleasure when a small smile emerged on her face in surprise at the taste on her tongue.

“Salt?” she asked, finally breaking her silence.He nodded and sat, resting his elbows on his knees.  He was stalling, dreading the things he was going to have to say to her.  He looked out at the water, watching it bubble cheerfully in the middle of the pond, looking for some kind of inspiration to find the right words to begin.

What is in your future?

Any more books your hiding in your soul? Well, SHRILUGH is the first book of four. Hopefully it’s sequel, THE DARKENING will be out in October. After this series is done, I’ve got another in the pipeline that I’ve temporarily dubbed SALT MINE. Hopefully that title will get much, much better. I’m actually dying to get to work on it, though. I think it’s going to be a good ‘un.

Like to buy from Smashwords? Click here:

 

Like to buy from Amazon? Click here:

 

Like to buy from iTunes? Click here:

 

Have a great weekend, pirates. Happy reading!

Gift Buying for Geeks!

Is the geek in your life about to have a birthday? Are you still guilty for getting them that lame American Eagle sweater for Christmas, and don’t want to see that disappointed look in their eye again?

Here’s the answer. An all-inclusive Gift Buying Geek Guide. If you’re ever in need for a geeky gift–look here for ideas and you’ll be sure to make the geek in your life very, very happy . . .

Read more at BSIG

Friday Favorites: Skater Boys and Billy Purgatory

I’ve always liked watching skaters and I always will.

Wait, wait, wait! Not THESE kind of skaters!

Yeah that’s better

Here’s an incredible video of Kilian Martin and his skateboard, in the most lovely city to do skateboarding tricks in.

And yes we all love skater boys and we all love it when they fall down, too. Here’s a funny funny video about Most Awesome Skateboard Fail Reactions. (warning: since there are so many falls there is really graphic language because if you can’t cuss when you fall I don’t know when you can)

But there’s one particular skater boy I want to tell you about.

His name’s Billy. Billy Purgatory.

I freakin’ loved this book. It had some of the best, most beautiful prose I’ve read in a long time. Here’s my video review of the book (it’s really dark because I could either film the video in a dim room or in a room with noisy kids so I chose the dim room).

Billy Purgatory’s cool and interesting. He cares about nothing and about everything. He’s a good person, and you’re rooting for him from the first page. The book is also cool because there are vampires, Time Zombies, and even Greek mythology woven in there! I highly recommend this book, and suggest you go check out the website. Also, the author, Jesse James Freeman is delicious on twitter and Facebook so don’t miss out.

Click on the skull and go buy the book.

Have a great weekend! And may you always land your jumps.

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