Monday, July 30, 2012

Operation Ayden's Vacation

I've spent the last week on vacation. That's right! The notorious workaholic finally took a real vacation. Well, sort of. I took a week and a half off from anything resembling work, and spent the time hanging out in Little Rock with some of my favorite people.  My girls converged on me from four different states last week, and we had a blast touring Little Rock and engaging in hijinks.

My wifey found a boyfriend at the gas station. (bwahahahaha) My Accolito almost got tased at Church's Chicken. My FLL did some questionable things involving a rabbit. I sipped a margerita. And my SQ's bosom so greatly distracted our waiter, he took 30 minutes to figure out our checks (so said his manager.. seriously). It was that kind of week. :)

We visited Central High School (home of the Little Rock Nine), Pugh's Mill (from Gone with the Wind), the Heifer Wetlands, the Clinton Presidential Center, the Big Dam Bridge, Heber Springs, Willy D's Piano Bar, and Chuck E. Cheese (cause, you know, you're never too old to play games). I thoroughly educated my SQ in all things Southern (like biscuits and gravy... nom!), and we made plans to do it all again ASAP.

I am so not ready to go back to work on Wednesday! But all good things must come to an end. At least temporarily. One of my favorite people will be back on Saturday, so I'll get to spend a few more days with her before I have to really embrace the real-world and real-world responsibilities again.

In the meantime, I have a few pictures of the epic stay at home vacation for you. :)


Willy D's Dueling Piano Bar

Shy Little Princess

My SQ after dinner at Santo Coyote

Wicked Bridge at Pugh's Mill

Heber Springs... where I sunburned in odd patterns

Central High School

The best bridge to say

Heifer Village Wetlands

Clinton Presidential Center

Gone with the Wind Sawmill bridge

My FLL and Me visit the Toadstools

My bestest little friend

Keeper and Kiddo

He cheats

FLL, SQ, and a giant rabbit

Incognito at the mall

More Old Mill


There are about a million other pictures, but those are super top secret. If I showed you, I'd have to harm you. ;)

I hope your week was as fantastic as mine! Don't forget to check back here on Wednesday for a super huge most excellent announcement. You won't be disappointed. :)

xoxo,
A.K.M.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Buccaneer #Blogfest: The End of Optimism (Candide, ou l'Optimisme)

Banner by Cody Underwood


Kissing Cunegonde
If you've followed the blog for long, you've probably seen me mention Voltaire's Candide a time or two. With this being book week in the blogfest, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite stand-alone novel again now.

For those unfamiliar with Voltaire, he was a French Enlightenment philosopher who advocated heavily for civil liberties and social reform in the period leading up to the American and French revolutions.

Knowing that, you're probably thinking he was some stodgy old dude whose writing would bore you to tears. But you'd be wrong. :)

Voltaire had become fast friends with scandal well before Candide was published, and if anyone knew how direly the French system needed reform, he did. In 1725, he was imprisoned in the Bastille without trial for insulting a nobleman. He eventually convinced French authorities to exile him to Great Britain, where he stayed for several years.

When he returned to France, he published a series of writings criticizing France's system in favor of Britain's, and once again found himself at the center of controversy. He was forced to flee the nation for a second time. When he returned the third time, he found himself in more trouble. You can guess how that ended.

In short, the man was damn good at offended the sensibilities of the stodgy old dudes back in the days of powdered wigs. Voltaire often criticized and philosophized with a razor-sharp wit and sarcastic bite that caused offense and laughter in turns, and Candide was no different.

The novel was released amidst great scandal in 1759, and has become one of his most well known works, and for good reason. Through Candide, Voltaire cleverly tore apart optimism (theodicy), and put forth his own philosophical beliefs in a series of fantastical and humorous misadventures for Candide and Pangloss, his tutor.

Cultivate your garden
In the novel, Candide grows up in this paradise of perfection where his tutor, Pangloss, teaches him an overreaching sense of optimism (a la Leibniz). When Candide is caught kissing Cunégonde, he is expelled from his little garden of Eden, and impressed into the Prussian army. His experiences there are nothing if not painful: he's beaten, forced into battle, and nearly executed. His sense of optimism is beginning to wane when he escapes and meets an Anabaptist who reinforces the optimistic outlook Pangloss taught him.

Eventually, Candide meets up with Pangloss again, and learns that his home has been destroyed and his lady love has been killed. They soon find themselves in a big storm, where the Anabaptist is thrown overboard and drowned. When they reach Lisbon, the city is hit with a devastating earthquake that sparks a tsunami and fire, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Despite the crappy situation, Pangloss continues to preach optimism, causing him and Candide to be arrested for heresy and sentenced to death by torture. After being flogged, another earthquake hits, and Candide is able to escape.

His problems are far from over though. Through the rest of the book, Candide suffers one misadventure after another. He kills his lady love's brother, is almost cooked to death, his lover and tutor are enslaved, etc. With each misadventure his sense of optimism is challenged, but he continues to hang onto what he's been taught the best he can.


Lisbon Earthquake of 1755
While the real tragedies interwoven into the novel (the Seven Years War, slavery, the devastating earthquake in Lisbon, etc) are no laughing matter, Voltaire created an incredibly humorous story by combining Candide's ignorant optimism with his sarcasm and the never-ending parade of misadventures he and his friends find themselves in throughout the course of the story. And Voltaire did so primarily to poke fun of Leibniz's Théodicée (in which Leibniz justified the ills of the world by taking the view that the world was the best possible world because it was created by God, who would never choose to create an imperfect world if a better could exist), and those who subscribed to Leibniz's overly optimistic view of evil.

When I'm having a bad day, I love picking up Candide. The story is short enough to read quickly, and always makes me laugh. Oddly enough, it also has a tendency to remind me that things could be worse. After all, at least one of my buttocks wasn't cut off and fed to the hungry. ;)

In all seriousness, while Voltaire cleverly pointed out the pitfalls of theodicy, he also manages to remind the reader that there are no absolutes and it's a tad silly of us to hold on to a belief or behavior against all reason and evidence to the contrary. A refusal to change accomplishes as much as blind optimism: and that's to say not much of use. At the same time though, as Candide learns in the story, there is no such thing as a perfect world, and we would be better suited to cultivating our own garden (or worrying about our own lives and how we live them) than we would to constantly concern ourselves with what the rest of the world is up to and why. Sometimes, being master of your own actions, beliefs and behavior just has to be enough.  

If you haven't read Candide yet, I highly recommend it. You can download a free copy here.

xoxo,
A.K.M.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Buccaneer #blogfest: My Favorite Authors

Banner by Cody Underwood
I love an author who leaves me thinking long after I've put down his or her book. I also love an author who can thoroughly mangle my heart, and then put it back together again. And don't get me started on an author who makes me itch to find a pen to highlight specific passages. I never write in books (or fold pages down), so if I have to fight the urge to do so, it's a big deal!

As a result, I have a lot of favorite authors, and for a lot of different reasons. But when I think of my all-time favorites, the list is a lot shorter.

Robert Jordan and David Eddings are at the top of that list, and I'm still heartbroken over their deaths. The world lost two of the best fantasy writers, in my opinion, when they passed. But I am so grateful they shared their talent with the world. 

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

I've reread the Wheel of Time and Belgariad series so often, The Husbinator has had to buy me two and three copies of the books. Jordan and Eddings have written some of the most eclectic sets of characters, and put them into these impossible, fantasical situations, yet still manage to bring out the humanity of the characters. No matter how many times I read their books, I find something else to fall in love with. And I always cry at least once every book.  

Belgariad by David Eddings

C.L. Wilson is another favorite for much the same reason. Her Tairen Soul series has some of the most memorable characters written into this impossible situation, but they still manage to hang-on to their humanity throughout the series. That's a big deal to me. So is the fact that the characters have to work for their HEA, and not all of them get it.

Tairen Soul by C.L Wilson


Another all-time favorite is Jean M. Auel. Auel is partly responsible for my fascination with history. In fact, I would love to go back to school at some point and obtain a degree or two in history or archeology. But that's neither here nor there.

Earth's Children by Jean M Auel

I have read the Earth's Children series so many times since my grandfather gave me the first book when I was fourteen, and I find something new to fascinate me every time, whether it's some new theory to research, some new aspect of Ayla and Jondalar's romance to love, or some new descriptive prose to re-read. I've spent weeks lost in the prehistoric world she's painted. Now that my grandfather is gone, reading the novels is bittersweet, but always welcomed.

Obviously, I'm a big lover of authors who write series, too. :)

Who are your favorite authors?

xoxo,
A.K.M.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Buccaneer #Blogfest: I'm Reading...

Banner by Cody Underwood

We're talking books this week, and my inner-nerd is probably going to explode all over the blog. Just step around any squishy parts, 'kay? ;)

Since the release of Rapture by Lauren Kate, I've become engrossed in the series all over again. I'm a sucker for a good love story, and the Fallen series definitely delivers. Daniel and Luce's story captivates me. And I cannot begin to tell you how much I love the entire past lives aspect of the series. If you haven't read the series yet, you should. :)



In addition to rereading the Fallen series, I've been reading Veiled Eyes by C.L. Bevill. I love that this book is set in Cajun country. My daughter and I have recently become obsessed with Cajun Justice on A&E, so this book fits right into the obsession. If psychic connections exists anywhere, I think it'd be in the bayou.

I'm not sure what I'll read next. If I like a book, I keep it to reread, so I have a mix of romance, YA, crime, fantasy, and the classics all calling my name. Not to mention the last Black Dagger Brotherhood book by J.R. Ward. I still haven't read that one yet, and I'm a little reluctant to do so. Don't get me wrong, I love the brothers, but if Tohrment ends up with anyone other than Wellsie, I'm going to be pissed! Safer if I just wait to start that one. It frightens The Husbinator when books go flying across the room.



What are you reading right now?

xoxo,
A.K.M.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Buccaneer Blogfest: The Soap Opera Behind #Fade

Banner by Cody Underwood

If you write, you probably know how easy it is to get stuck on a scene, a plot point, or an idea. You're probably also intimately familiar with the "aha!" moment where the switch flips and you figure out where to go or what to write next.

For me, that moment came after I'd already written the first draft of Fade, and it changed the story completely. Which worked out well, actually. In the original draft, the reasons behind Ari's connection to Dace were a lot different than they are now. As a result, the story felt completely off to me, so I sat the manuscript aside for a long time.

While reading through the Rokkr myths one day, I was struck by how connected the major players in mythology often are to one another. For instance, Loki is Odin's brother and Balder's uncle. Fenrir is Loki and Angrboda's son. And Hati and Skoll are the sons of Fenrir and Angrboda (gross, I know). Loki eventually tricks Balder's brother into killing Balder and is bound in a cave and tormented for eterniy. And Fenrir is destined to kill Odin (who had him chained to a rock in the bowels of the earth) before Vidar (Odin's son) eventually tears him apart.

In other words, mythology is the ultimate soap opera. Fenrir is making mutant babies with his mama while his daddy plots ways to get one of his nephews to murder the other and his uncle plots ways to chain him to a rock for eternity. Didn't you see that episode of Passions?!

Betrayal, sex, and supernatural stuff

Norse mythology is exactly like that. Everyone is connected in some way, everyone betrays someone somehow, and if you have a knife in your back, you'd better look to your family first because, chances are, one of them put it there.

Despite this, there are these important people in the lives of the gods and demigods that we don't know much about. So, where the heck are they when all of this killing and betrayal is going on? Given how everyone is connected, it's hard to believe they don't have their own roles to play, or aren't involved somehow. I mean, I saw that episode of Passions, too, and everyone gets sucked into the drama somehow!

Once I started considering that side of things, the switch flipped. I picked up Fade again, and started rewriting entire plot points. Ari and Dace's connection to one another and to the bigger picture solidified, and so did the rest of the story. So, in a way, the entire series happened because of a bad soap opera I used to watch religiously with one of my favorite patients.

Weird, but true.

xoxo,
A.K.M.



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Buccaneer #blogfest: #Fade Character Interview (aka Torturing Dace)

Banner By Cody Underwood

Today, we're interviewing a character from our novel, and I turned to my favorite people for a little help with the questions before I duct-taped Dace to a chair and made him cooperate on pain of writing him into a love triangle. He growled at me, but once I asked R how he would feel about kissing Ari, Dace decided to cooperate.

Cruel, I know, but hey, you should try getting the boy to answer a question. As my bestie would say, he's bloody irritating! Just wait, you'll see.

Me: I have a few questions to ask you.

Dace: *looks at the duct-tape wrapped around his torso and then at me, an eyebrow arched* You know this won't hold me, right?

Me: Will too.

Dace: *snorts*

Me: I'll tell Ari you wouldn't cooperate.

Dace: *mumbles* You're worse than she is.

Me: *ignores the muttering* The first question is from Corbin in Arkansas. How old are you?

Dace: Shouldn't you be writing?

Me: Dace... don't make me hurt you. I will let him kiss her.

Dace: *growls* You wouldn't.

Me: *smirks, dangling my pen in front of his face* I would.

Dace: *grumbles, giving in* I'm twenty-one.

Me: Thank you.

Dace: *ignores me* Next question?

Me: Courtney in Arkansas wants to know what you fear the most.

Dace: *scowls* Being written into a love triangle.

Me: Be serious.

Dace: I am. *speaks softly, his scowl slipping* Losing Ari would kill me, you know this. She's everything.

Me: A-

Dace: Don't you dare say aww.

Me: *bites my tongue and nods* Lisa from Ohio asks what motivates you.

Dace: *sits quietly for a minute before shifting in his seat* Fear.

Me: Fear?

Dace: Yeah, fear.

Me: Explain, please.

Dace: *tilts his head, looking at me* Fear is a damn good motivator. *laughs a little* And we have plenty to fear, don't we?

Me: *twitches, feeling guilty* Erm...

Dace: *rolls his eyes* Next question.

Me: Marita in Oklahoma wants to know what single thing in your past you would change if you could.

Dace: *sits in silence for a long time before speaking* I'd never let my father know the truth about me.

Me: *frowns* Do you think it would make a difference?

Dace: Yeah, I do.

Me: *nods* Maybe you're right.

Dace: *shrugs a shoulder* Next?

Me: What's your favorite myth?

Dace: The story of Psyche and Eros.

Me: Seriously?

Dace: *laughs* Yeah. 

Me: *shakes my head* You're a romantic.

Dace: *looks at me, not speaking*

Me: Okay, next question.

Dace: *sighs* There are more?

Me: *rolls my eyes* Yes, there are more.

Dace: Fine. *mutters something under his breath*  

Me: *ignores him* Amy in Louisiana asks, "If there could be one certainty in your future, what would you want it to be?"

Dace: *stops muttering, answering without hesitation* I'd guarantee Arionna's safety. And don't say aww again either.

Me: *holds up my hands* I wasn't going to!

Dace: *snorts, arching a brow* Your thoughts are louder than Arionna's.

Me: Yeah, yeah. Renae in Massachusetts wants to know how you would react if you were told you were going to be a hero.

Dace: I don't know, I've never thought about it.

Me: Never? Not even when-?

Dace: *shakes his head* No, not even then.

Me: Okay then.

Dace: You do what you have to do. Doesn't leave much time to think about how things might turn out. *pauses* That's not true. I do think about how I hope things turn out, but not in that way. I don't want to be a hero. I want only to keep everyone safe.

Me: Everyone?

Dace: You know what I mean. Arionna, Chelle, the wolves... *quietly* They've all lost enough.

Me: *clears my throat, fidgeting* Yeah, they have.

Dace: *gives me a grim smile* Next question?

Me: Jen in the UK wants to know what you do in your free time.

Dace: I watch old movies, hike, or read. *eyes me sideways* Not that you give me much free time.

Me: *ignores him* Mel in Missouri has two questions for you. First up, does your name have any special significance?

Dace: *shrugs* Not really. My mom picked it.

Me: You were pretty insistent on keeping it...

Dace: It's the only thing I have from her.

Me: Oh.

Dace: *moves his gaze away* Next?     

Me: What went through your mind when you realized Ari could hear your thoughts and vice versa?

Dace: Honestly?

Me: *nods* Yes, please.

Dace: I didn't know what to think. She seemed so lost and broken, and the wolf was so out of control. I wanted to protect her and kiss her at the same time.

Me: What do you think now?

Dace: *shakes his head a little* I want to protect her and kiss her at the same time. And then I want to shake her. *looks at me* You better not tell her I said that.

Me: *smirks* You compared her to a terrier. I think she knows.

Dace: *cringes* That was bad, wasn't it?

Me: *laughs* Um, yeah. A terrier, Dace? *shakes my head, giggling* You're lucky she didn't stab you.

Dace: I was frustrated! She doesn't give up. Ever.

Me: That's not a bad thing.

Dace: *expression clouds, his smile slipping* Yeah, I know. *meets my gaze, drumming is fingers on the arm of the chair* Anything else?

Me: Nope. Thank you for cooperating.

Dace: *nods* You're welcome. If R kisses her, you know I'll kill him, right?

Me: Mm-hmm. *gathers up my stuff*

Dace: Are you going to untape me?

Me: *looks over at him and shakes my head* Nope.

Dace: *growls* Ayden! Dammit.

Me: Hey, you're the one who said the tape wouldn't hold you. And you threatened to kill R. Twice!

Dace: *mutters* Don't tempt me.

Me: Don't make me tell Ari.

Dace: *rolls his eyes* Sort your face out. I won't kill him unless he kisses her.

Me: *stops as his words register, suddenly nervous* You did not just say that.

Dace: *smirks at me* I know what Jen teaches you in your free time.

Me: Crap. *blushes, holding up the scissors* Truce?

Dace: Truce.

*wipes my brow* Phew! Be grateful he doesn't live in your head, loves. The boy is a menace. And he really does not fight fair. *grumbles*

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for our irritating wayward T.A.! And my apologies to everyone in the blogfest for being so slow at responding to comments and getting over to your blog. I'm taking vacation next week, so the boss-lady and family have decided to keep me insanely busy until then. *flails*

xoxo,
A.K.M.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Buccaneer Blogfest: Fall Teaser

Banner by Cody Underwood

Today's Blogfest Prompt requires that we post the first paragraph of our novel or a work in progress. You've already seen some of the prologue to Fall, the sequal to Fade, so I decided to post the first paragraph of chapter one for you instead of paragraph numero uno of the prologue.


Fall picks up where Fade left off, with our wayward T.A. and his stubborn soul-mate trying to adjust to the things that happened to them in Fade. They know what is at stake for them now, and both take risks that, perhaps, they shouldn't. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I have a feeling these two are going to become intimately familiar with that concept as Fall progresses. But that's a discussion for another time. On to the excerpt!

I jerked awake, a choked gasp echoing in the early morning light filtering into the room around me. A flurry of thought bounced around inside my skull, causing my heart to race. Fear, anger, and determination twisted through me like smoke before dissipating as quickly as the feelings formed. They were not my emotions, though, and not my thoughts.

See you Wednesday!


xoxo,
A.K.M.




Friday, July 13, 2012

Author Interview with Jamie Ayres

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Welcome back, Buccaneers!

This week, I had the opportunity to ask the amazing Jamie Ayres, debut author of 18 Things, a few questions for the blogfest! I have to confess: the more I learn about Jamie and 18 Things, the more I love her and the novel concept.

18 Things will be published soon from Curiosity Quills Press. Take a look at what Jamie had to say about the novel, writing, and her life in general. Before you read on though, take a minute to add Jamie's blog to your list. You won't regret it! :)

You're publishing your first novel, 18 Things, with Curiosity Quills soon! Are you nervous at all?

Oh my gosh, soooo nervous! You know how they have the 7 Stages of Grief? I think writers go through something similar:

Step 1: Excitement--The OMG moment where someone FINALLY offers you a contract for publishment *squeal*

Step 2: Shock--Your body goes numb & nothing going on around you registers.

Step 3: Disbelief--Nope, this can't be for real. They made a mistake. They'll be calling any minute now to retract their offer.

Step 4: Bargaining--Oh God, I'll give anything for this to be real. I won't yell at my husband anymore for never putting his dirty socks in the laundry basket. I'll have more patience for my kids and students. I'll walk the dog 3x a day. I'll treat my body like a holy temple & won't consume massive amounts of chocolate. Just please, please, please let this happen! (say allllllllll of this with your fingers & toes crossed in the prayer position)

Step 5: Guilt--How did I sign a contract before this totally AWESOME blogger buddy who writes waaayyy better than I do? That's not fair!

Step 6: Acceptance--Reality sets in & you remember everything happens for a reason & God has finally given you your shining moment.

Step 7: Hope--That everyone (mostly) will fall in love with your novel when they read it and post rocking reviews.

This quote I read today sums it up nicely:

"A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public with his pants down." - Edna St. Vincent Millay

**I totally agree with the 7 Steps, Jamie!

What can we expect with 18 Things?

So glad you asked! Here is the book blurb I wrote for the back of the book:

Can eighteen things save a life? Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten. Then Conner is killed in a freak accident and Olga feels responsible. The sarcastic, nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is suddenly lost and unable to deal with the emotional pain. When she downs an entire bottle of pain pills, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled 18 Things. Eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday. Olga enlists the help of her friends and becomes a catalyst for healing in their own lives as they eagerly offer suggestions. Alls she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her. Maybe it’s time to put into practice the lessons her list has taught her. Just as she’s finally embracing the joys of YOLO, her therapist reveals a big secret and Olga’s world is shaken. In the past year it took eighteen remarkable things to change a life, but nothing she believed about her mission is true. Now she doesn’t just risk losing her true soul-mate forever, she risks losing her very soul. There’s only one thing she knows for certain. Her choice will affect their future for all eternity.

When did you realize you were a writer? Did you write in other genres first or find your niche quickly?

Well, I always loved to write but it wasn't until middle school when the Language Arts classes were seperate that I gained a lot of attention from my teachers. I always won contests and was chosen as the good example to be read aloud in class. I wrote for the high school newspaper and got really involved with that . . . even attended a journalism conference at Columbia University for five days during my senior year. But after my first year of college, I took a missions trip to Jamaica and stayed at a children's orphange. I knew God was calling me to teach, so I switched majors when I returned for my sophomore year, always with the intention of writing in my 'spare' time. Flash forward to also getting married that summer and having two kids much earlier than we expected--you can imagine 'spare' time wasn't in the works. Then in the summer of 2009 hubby started snoring and keeping me awake. Since I didn't have to get up early for school, I started writing. I didn't mean to write a novel for teenagers, that's just what came out! At first I started writing YA contemporary love stories. I pretty much still do, but now there are paranormal twists thrown in:-)

What does a perfect day entail for you?

A lazy summer day at home, peanut butter blossoms baking in the oven, reading & writing, playing & giggling with my daughters & basset hound, a picnic dinner on the beach with family and our besties as we watch the sunset, and later that night, a few moments alone with my hubby *wink, wink*

Do you have a writing routine? Any props you absolutely must have when you sit down to write?

During the school year, I write/blog/critique from 8:30-11:30pm (after my youngest goes to bed) and then read a novel before bed until 12:30am. In the summer, it varies according to what we're doing that day since I must somewhat take on the role of 'cruise director' to my kids--keeping them entertained! But I shoot for actually writing my novel for 2 hours a day every day. It's really critiquing and blog stuff that demand most of my time though. Props--my Starbucks travel mug (so I don't accidentally spill all over my laptop--gack) that's actually filled with Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla Coffee.

Do your characters mirror the people in your life in any way?

If you ask Mr. Ayres, he'd say he was the inspiration for my hot protagonist, Nate, in 18 Things.  My female protagonist is actually named after my two grandmothers, but her personality and looks resembles more of my step-sister, Misty (who will appear on my cover--yay). I used a lot of names from my real life in the novels, kinda to pay tribute to those people. But really, their personalities are all their own.

We all have guilty pleasures. What are yours?

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Did I mention chocolate;-) Also, Barnies Santa's White Christmas coffee. It costs $12 for a half pound but so totally worth it!!

In addition to writing, you also teach. Have you found that the two go hand-in-hand or is there a disconnect between the two for you?

I think writing is more of a stress release from my teaching job, lol. There's more of a disconnect for me but I'm passionate about both, and hopefully good at both. Of course, both really stem from the absolute love of reading!

Have you ever had a fictional crush? If so, who was it? Why?

Ohmigosh! So many! Kostos from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Gale from The Hunger Games series, Jace from The Mortal Instrument series, Will from The Infernal Devices series, Four (Tobias) from The Divergent trilogy, and most of all, Harry Potter. All of these characters lives are shaped by tragedy, most of them self-destructive, an intriguing loner but also a loyal friend, heroic, and let's not forget good looking!! They helped create series of books I was very sad to leave (well, some are not over yet & the waiting is killing me!)

What's the worst thing you've ever written?

My first novel, Sarah's Crossroads, was pretty cringe worthy. So was my second book, Random Lee Chosen. I still might use those titles, but the stories themselves will never see the light of day! 3 novels in 3 years time and it looks like the old saying is true: third time's a charm:-)

Where else can we find you?

Oh, thanks for asking:






Thanks so much for participating, Jamie! I cannot wait to read 18 Things!

If you haven't stalked followed Jamie yet, what are you waiting for? 18 Things will be released later this year from Curiosity Quills.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

One Ghost Per Serving

Nervous about Friday the 13th? Want to make sure your luck stays good? I have a solution. Enter the One Ghost Per Serving Good Luck Giveaway. The more entries you have, the more good luck you are guaranteed. The luckiest THIRTEEN entrants will win a free digital copy of One Ghost Per Serving by Nina Post.

Possessed by Rex, a mischievous spirit, Eric Snackerge’s life has careened out of control. Losing his scholarship and getting blacklisted from the legal profession are just the start – now his best-friend-turned-enemy is in danger of stealing away his family, too.
An unusual contest may be his last chance to make his daughter’s dreams come true. But he’ll have to overcome his own self-doubt — not to mention the seemingly impossible odds — in order to achieve that goal.
As Eric and his ghostly companion soon learn, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill sweepstakes. When the sponsors begin dispatching spy cameras, attack helicopters, and the kitchen sink – all to make sure that Eric doesn’t get any further – it becomes clear that the contest is only the first phase of a much larger, sinister plan to spread a supernatural pathogen throughout the food supply.
Do Eric and Rex have what it takes to foil the villains’ plan and protect the Snackerge family from becoming the next victims?
 
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Tragic Comic-Con Accident: How You Can Help

On Tuesday, a very special lady was killed in an accident at Comic-Con. Her name was Gisela, and she'd made the trek to Los Angeles with friends to attend the Breaking Dawn panel at Comic-Con.

Gisela was a big fan of Twilight, and members of the Twilight fandom are putting together a memorial fund for her. All proceeds of the fund will go to her family to help pay funeral and other expenses stemming from this tragic accident.

I didn't know Gisela, but one of the girls who attended with her, Lillian, has been an absolute sweetheart to me for a very long time. She's been one of my most avid supporters, and we've talked often over the last couple of years, sometimes about the more serious things in life, sometimes about the funnier parts. Lillian has always made me smile, and my heart goes out to her. I cannot even imagine losing a friend like Gisela.

I will be donating the official prologue to Fade for inclusion in a compilation of stories being put together in her honor, and I would like to encourage all of you to get involved, too.

You can make a contribution to the memorial fund here, or sign up to donate a short story (or chapter) to the anthology being put together for participants here. Submissions are due on August 3, 2012. If you would like a copy of the story compilation, forward a copy of your donation receipt to Fandom4TwiFanG@gmail.com on or before August 3, 2012.

xoxo,
A.K.M.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Buccaneer Blogfest: Stand up to live. Sit down to write.

Banner by Cody Underwood

Several years ago, I participated in a scholarship competition hosted by ProgressiveU.org which required participants to blog on social justice issues throughout the course of the competition. Until that point, I'd kind of figured I had nothing to say that anyone would particularly want to read. The competition quickly showed me the error of my thinking. By the end, I was lucky enough to have consistently high-rated entries that received thousands of hits and sparked numerous discussions on issues ranging from politics to religion to education to writing and everything in between.

Eventually, I joined ProgressiveU as a staff member, and later as a member of the board. During my time there, I watched so many young people come to the competition with the belief that nothing they said would really make a difference for anyone, and leave with the realization that people not only wanted to hear what they had to say, but that what they had to say could make a difference. Some of those individuals have gone on to do great things. One now writes for Scientific American, another has found his niche in research into evolution, others found the courage to come out to their friends or parents, to pursue their dreams, or to channel their passion for writing or social justice issues into fulfilling careers.

While I don't think we can solely credit blogging for these successes, I do know that blogging helped instill confidence in these students, in myself, and in thousands of others just like us. My experience taught me that words have power, and that taking the chance and saying something, no matter if it will be well received or not, is infinitely better than remaining silent.

Time constraints don't allow me to do much with ProgressiveU anymore, but I still firmly believe that blogging can be a powerful tool whether you're a writer, a professional, or a college kid with no clue where to begin. That's not only why I blog, but why I write. I may not always have a lot to say, but having the platform to say those important things when they do come up matters to me. So is having the ability to educate others on topics that are important to me.

Writing Fade, for instance, has given me the opportunity to learn more about the plight of gray wolves in the United States, and to share that information with others. Writing Empty Panes gave me the opportunity to connect with people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and to educate others on the reality of the condition. Rapture allowed me to share what I know about drug trafficking and the serious consequences drug abuse can have not only on addicts, but on the people around them.

I can't promise that anything I say on any given subject will make a difference, but I can promise that having a voice and not using it does no good for anyone. And I can promise that, even if you never hear a word from the people reading your work, it has touched someone out there in some way, and they do value that experience.

So I guess you can say my goal here is to share what I've learned in the hopes that it will give someone else the courage to do the same whether they're writers, readers, parents, or the college kid sitting in the back row. I also want to share my writing journey in the hopes that someone out there will find the courage to stop making excuses, take that first step, and write!

Life will always be busy. There will always be a million things standing in the way of your goals if you let them. So don't. Ignore that little voice whispering that you don't have time to do this or do that, and stand up to live. Once you're done, sit down, and write! What you have to offer the world is more important than you think it is, and so are you. 

Lofty goals for a blog, perhaps, but what can I say? I'm an idealist, and I am perfectly okay with that. :)

xoxo,
A.K.M.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Happy Teaser Tuesday, loves!


Today, I decided to give you a little bit of La Morte Nera. La Morte Nera started as an original story about two years ago. When I was asked to participate in a series of charity compilations, I edited the story heavily from its original version to fit the compilations, and have recently started playing with it again. I have no plans to do anything publication wise with the story, but I do love tinkering with it! :)

In the story, Anya's being stalked by werewolves, and she has no clue why. When she meets Kaden, a Fae warrior, she learns that a devastating virus has been unleashed, and it's killing the various supernatural races at an alarming speed. As events unfold, Anya realizes that she's not as clueless as she believed, and the wolves have a very good reason for trying to get to her. She may be the only one who can help Kaden find a way to stop the virus, but walking back into the world she left behind years ago will be no easy feat, especially when she's forced to face the realization that the secrets buried with her family may be the only thing that will save the Fae warrior she's falling in love with.
Poor girl. ;)

Here's your teaser for the week. :)

"I know what you're thinking and stop it," Kaden told her, clenching his jaw against the rush of desire churning through him. He wanted to pull Anya into his arms, and hold her. He thrust his hands behind his back instead, away from the temptation she presented. "It's not your fault you were institutionalized, and there's nothing wrong with you."

"Whatever," Anya mumbled, rolling her eyes. Her face flushed, her embarrassment obvious. "Can we go now? I want to get this over with so I can get back to my life."

Kaden wanted to shake her, force her to stop and listen to him, but what would that accomplish? She wasn't ready to hear what he had to say now. She might never be ready. He ground his teeth in frustration and re-inserted the key into the lock, determined to find a way to get through to her.

He turned the knob and pushed the door open in one practiced move.

A hiss sounded from inside the apartment.

Kaden had the knives he'd hidden up his sleeves out of their sheaths and into his hands in an instant. He raised them, ready to throw.

"Kaden, no!" Anya pushed him aside and dove into the dark room. She fell to her knees right inside the door, a white streak barreling straight toward her.

Kaden cursed and grabbed back the knives already leaving his hands. There was no way he'd hit the target before it got to Anya.

The little streak dove into Anya's waiting arms as if on cue.

Kaden leaped to her side, ready to rip the thing from her arms. His desire to protect her overrode every other thought in his mind. His heart raced, blood pumping hard.

"It's just Zee." She held up a white ball of fur for him to inspect. The ball of fur turned in her arms, laid its ears back and hissed at him.

A kitten.

Christ!

He'd forgotten all about her little pet.

He kicked the door closed behind him, slamming the knives back into their sheaths with force. He'd nearly beheaded a kitten. Anya would have loved that. He swore, and turned his attention to the rest of the room. He scanned for any sign of actual danger, his gaze sweeping the area quickly.

Everything looked ordinary.

He looked closer.

The room appeared a little too ordinary, actually. Black carpeting, white furniture, matching black and white curtains, and glass tables bare of mementos of any kind. An inconspicuous television sat on top of an equally inconspicuous stand. A hotel room had more personality than Anya's apartment. So did a hospital.

Who was this lovely girl?

He glanced down at her, the question on the tip of his tongue.

"Shh, Zee," she crooned to the kitten in her arms, ignoring him. "The bad Fae won't hurt you." She scratched behind the animal's ears. "You're a good guard kitty, aren't you?"

The little ball of fur snuggled into her arms and purred in obvious satisfaction.

Kaden shook his head, watching as Anya heaped praise and adoration on the kitten, cuddling the tiny animal to her body and burying her nose in his fur. His chest ached at the soft, dreamy smile on her face.

Would she ever look at him like that?

Damn, he hoped so.

Hmm. Looks like Anya might not be the only one falling in love in this story. ;)

xoxo,
A.K.M.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Buccaneer Blogfest: Meet Ayden #bloghop

Banner by Cody Underwood

The Buccaneer Blogfest officially starts today, and it's Introduce Yourself Day. So, let's get to it, shall we?

My name is Ayden, and I write young adult romance as A.K. Morgen. My first novel, Fade, was contracted for publication by Curiosity Quills Press a few months ago, and will be released soon. The ever amazing Krystal Wade and I have been whipping the manuscript into shape lately. I just finished the first round of edits on the novel. Yay!

If you've been here before, you probably already know that Fade is the first book in a series that focuses on Norse mythology, and the unexpected role our heroine (Arionna Jacobs) and hero (Dace Matthews) play in some of those myths. You can expect love, loss, shapeshifting, angels, Norse demi-gods, and possibly even the end of the world. You'll just have to read and see how that works out for our wayward T.A. and his stubborn soul-mate. ;) You can read an excerpt of the novel and more here.

I graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology, and a M.S. in Criminal Justice and Law. I am a huge nerd. I love learning new things and will spend hours researching the most obscure facts ever. If I don't know the answer to a question, I will find it even if it takes me all day. This drives my husband insane because I also love to argue. He swears he can never win because I'm too anal retentive. He's probably right on that last bit. ;)

I plan on attending law school next fall. My ultimate goal is to open a non-profit that provides legal services to the mentally ill, specifically those in the criminal justice system. My other life goals include learning the Thriller Dance, blowing something up (legally), owning an Audi R8, hiking to Machu Picchu, convincing the husband I do need a live pet cow, and building the largest spork army ever.

When I'm not writing or studying, I'm the volunteer coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas, and a volunteer with several different organizations close to my heart. I am a big believer in getting involved and giving back, and I absolutely love writing for charity, organizing fundraising campaigns, educating people on some of the issues that deserve attention, and getting others involved in worthy causes.

I spend my free time hanging out with my husband, our teenage daughter, my sister and her kiddos, getting into mischief with my partners-in-crime, reading, dancing, swimming, hiking, or catching up on the shows I never seem to watch while they're on air. My favorite drink is vodka (which the neurosurgeon banished), my favorite food is cookies (or anything chocolate), and I firmly believe that watching hockey (Blackhawks, baby!) is a sport. 

I love blogging, but I often lack the time to put a lot of effort into maintaining the blog. I typically pop in when I have something important to say about the world, or something to share about the writing journey. Otherwise, I post random updates as time allows. I'm kind of crazy so you never know what's going to come out of my mouth (or fingertips). Hell, I never know what's going to come out of my mouth.

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and YALitChat.

I look forward to getting to know my fellow buccaneers! You can get to know them via the links below :)

xoxo,
A.K.M.

 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: #Fade

My awesome editor is on vacation, and I've finished this round of edits for Fade, so I've taken a few days off, and have been sucked into Pretty Little Liars*. As much as I'm enjoying the show, I figured it was time to step away from the television before I reverted to a teenage girl. So, it's time for Teaser Tuesday!

Since I've been editing the novel and not doing much in the way of writing, this week's teaser comes from Fade. Enjoy, everyone! And have a safe and happy 4th, my American loves!

I lifted my head to find Dad staring at me.

"Please, don't," I begged when he opened his mouth. "I don't want to know."

He narrowed his eyes and blew out a breath between his teeth, and then he nodded.

"Thanks," I said, relief running through me.

"Sure," he muttered and turned back to the food.

I hopped up to gather plates and utensils, feeling incredibly grateful that I had him. He didn't push and didn't interfere. He accepted. "Need tea?" I asked.

"Juice," he said and started whistling. The tune sounded less cheerful than usual.

I filled two glasses with apple juice then deposited them on the table before going back for the plates and forks. We worked in silence as I set the table and he finished the stir-fry.

"That was Dace on the phone, wasn't it?" I sighed, defeated, fiddling with the placement of my silverware.

Dad stopped stirring and nodded.

Of course it was Dace. "I suppose you have a message for me?"

"No," he said, his expression wary. "He was calling to check on you. He said he'd been calling . . . ." He trailed off with a shrug, not even mentioning how many times Dace had called the house since I'd returned yesterday.

Nineteen, including that one. He'd called my cell almost as many and hadn't left a single message. That hurt more than it should.

I dropped back down into my seat, scowling down at my glass.

"Did you two have a fight or something?" Dad asked, his voice steady, disinterested almost.

"Something like that," I mumbled, not sure how to classify what'd happened. Dace had simply left. No argument. No explanation. Nothing.

"Ah." Dad deposited the wok on the table.

I dished out a heaping helping for him and not so much for myself.

Dad frowned at the little bit on my plate, but didn't comment.

"Um . . . ." He cleared his throat as he picked up his fork. "He asked if he could stop by to talk to me this evening. I told him yes."

"What?" My head shot up.

Dad held up his hands. "I didn't know you were angry with him."

Great. Just great. I glowered, viciously stabbing a piece of chicken with my fork.

"I'll call and tell him not—"

"It's fine," I interrupted sharply. Too sharply. "Sorry," I said as his fork wavered near his mouth.

He quirked a brow.

"Really, it's fine." I told him, more calmly than before. "I have some reading to do anyway." We both knew that was a lie.

"If you're sure," he said, still hesitant.

"I'm sure," I lied, feeling anything but. That was my problem though, not his. Besides which, the house was big enough for both me and Dace for one evening. I would simply hide out until he was gone. No problem.


D'oh! Things are not all gravy for our wayward TA and his annoyed soul-mate at the moment. Looks like there's gonna be twouble, twouble. (Name that movie quote!)

Happy Fourth!
A.K.M.

*Dear, Keeper of the Cheerios: Yes, I cheated to find out who A is.