Thursday, December 27, 2012

Goodbye 2012: My Year in Review

Hello, everyone.

We're currently without power here in a very cold Little Rock. Ten inches of cold, fluffy white stuff caused a transformer in our backyard to crash and burn Christmas night. The wonderful electric company says it may be a week before they get power restored to us. Eek! Luckily, work still has power and SS was able to get me here safely to relieve my coworker so she could sleep a few hours.

Being snowed in without electrictiy has given me a lot of time to think about the past year. 2012 has been a year full of changes for me and my family, some great, and some not so awesome. Until I started looking back though, I didn't realize just how much happened this year, or how much I've learned as a result.

When the year began, I was finishing up final requirements for my graduate degree. I was exhausted, my brain was fried, and I had no clue how I was going to survive finals, but somehow, I prevailed. In March, after seven years of non-stop schooling, I officially completed my last degree in the top 5% of my class.


Celebrating graduation in Eureka Springs, AR

Two months later, I took over as volunteer coordinator at work, and spent much of the summer putting to rights our volunteer program. I learned so much, and had such an amazing time!

Hanging out with the big guys at work.

Losh visiting me at work.
 

I then spent a week over the summer with some of my absolute favorite people. We caused mischief, we talked, we laughed... and I cannot wait to do it all over again!

Partners in Crime
Hanging with the FLL.

In September, I published my first novel, Fade. This has been such a crazy, amazing experience full of ups and downs and "OMG, I think I'm going to throw-up" moments. Despite my reluctance to begin this particular journey, I'm glad I did. I've learned so much since I finished the first draft of Fade so many years ago...and I've learned even more since that terrifying September morning. :)

That's my name!

My family celebrated some very big milestones with my nephew, Aloshua over the course of the year, too!

 1. In September, he officially made it one year without a hospitalization for the first time ever!
 2. In late October, he came off of the ventilator, and has been off of it for two months for the first time since being placed on the vent at a year old!
 3. On Christmas Day, he said his whole first name (Aloshua) for the first time ever.
 4. For the first time in his life, he gained weight without being on oxygen or the ventilator. 

Way to go, baby!

In November, my beautiful new niece, the Flower Child, was born. She's pretty amazing, and I can't wait to begin teaching her all the questionable things I've taught the other niece and nephews over the years. She's got a lot of catching up to do!


Little Princess and the Flower Child
 
My grandma and the Flower Child
In December, I officially accepted a position with the state. In January, I will begin coordinating a new human services program for my region of the state. I'll be staying on at RMH one day a week to help out, and I am going to miss spending so much time with the very special families who call our House a home, but I am so incredibly excited for this new opportunity. :)

With all of these exciting changes has come many losses for my family, my friends, and those I hold dear. At work, we've lost so many amazing children, and that always breaks my heart. Their families remain in my thoughts and prayers, and I will be forever grateful for the time I got to spend learning their stories and helping them in some small way.

Early this year, I lost a dear friend as well, and I still miss her greatly. Her enthusiam was so infectious, as was her spirit and sense of adventure. She was a light in this world, and I think about her often.

Equally as devastasting... My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of November. A week after finishing her first round of chemo mid-December, she was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. She's still there now, and our family is struggling to come to terms with the fact that she won't be with us for much longer. She has opted to discontinue chemo, as her doctors no longer believe it will be beneficial to her. I've spent a lot of time with her in the hospital over the last few weeks, and it's devastating to see her struggle so much. We will honor her decision though, and do everything we can to be there for her as she continues this difficult journey.

I've taken on many writing related tasks this year, and have struggled greatly with completing them. In fact, despite my best intentions and a whole lot of determination, I didn't finish so much that I wanted to complete this year, and that's been a bitter pill to swallow.

My reading list for the year is pathetic. I've finished less than half of the writing I wanted to finish. Blog challenges have gone undone, or half done. NaNoWriMo was a bust.

I'm still struggling to accept the limits I now face, and I think I will struggle with this for a long time to come. But I've learned that sometimes, this is for the best. No matter how much I hate it, or cry about it... I can't do everything. Taking care of myself must come first, and the sooner I learn to deal with that, the better.

I'm not admitting defeat on getting things done yet though. Not even a cup of little pills a day changes who I am. And I am stubborn! I may not have finished everything I started this year, and it may be taking a lot longer than I hoped, but I will get there eventually. And no matter what challenges you face, you'll get there eventually, too.

I'm looking forward to 2013 and the exciting adventures the year promises to bring. My goals are more realistic for the coming year, I think. And those I will share when it's not 4am. :)

Until next year,
Ayden
     

Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Friday, December 21, 2012

Paradise Earth: Day Zero - Interview with @armathenia #newrelease

Hello everyone!

We have a very special guest with us today. The amazing Anthony Mathenia has braved the fireballs ripping through the sky outside to answer a few questions about his new release, Paradise Earth: Day Zero. I'd like to apologize to Anthony for not getting this posted earlier in the day. I was busy cowering under the bed in my aluminum foil hat with a broom in hand, waiting for E.T. to come and take me away. Okay, not really, but that's so much more fun. Anthony, our apocalypse expert, reserves the right to point and laugh at me. :) 

But seriously, I am incredibly excited to bring all of you this interview today. Paradise Earth released yesterday from Curiosity Quills Press, and it promises to be a novel so many of you will love! 
 
When the ground quakes and blazing balls of fire fall from the sky, a reli­gious sect inter­prets it as the ful­fill­ment of long-held prophe­cies fore­telling the end of the world. The mem­bers flee to their reli­gious sanc­tu­ary, believ­ing that this global cat­a­clysm is the por­tent of a new par­adise of eter­nal happiness.

Inside, one cold and starv­ing man strug­gles to hold onto his hope for the future. He’s sac­ri­ficed every­thing for his faith in the prophecy, includ­ing his fam­ily. As the tor­tu­ous night drags on, he strug­gles to hold onto his hope for the future and grap­ples with a life­time of beliefs, and expec­ta­tions.

If he sur­vives to see the par­adise earth, will it be worth it?

Par­adise Earth is a decon­struc­tion of faith at the end of the world and beyond.
 
Now that the world hasn't ended, I need a little apocalyptic goodness in my life. And if Paradise Earth can cure me of the bitter taste (as I'm certain it will!) Battlefield left in my mouth yesterday, all the better. :)

Let's see what Anthony has to say about Paradise Earth: Day Zero before we all rush off to grab our copies.

Please tell us about yourself in fifty words or less.


The amazing Anthony
Hi! I’m Anthony Mathenia, author of Happiness: How to Find It and most recently Paradise Earth: Day Zero. I’m also a travel columnist for Vagobond.com. I was raised in a cult and I apologize if I woke you up on Saturday morning to try to recruit you.

What can readers expect from Paradise Earth: Day Zero?

The story concerns a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses that retreat to their Kingdom Hall, to ride out what they believe to be their long awaited world end.  Then things get messy. The story is told from the perspective of one of the congregation members.  He first approaches the horrifying situation with resolute faith, but as the tumult drags on he begins to give into doubt.  The story is also a reflection of his past when he made some serious sacrifices for his religion.  In the tortuous dark with an uncertain future, he begins to ask himself if it was all worth it.

Paradise Earth is surgery.  It’s peeling back the skin of beliefs, hopes and fears in order to peek at the blood and guts.  It’s bleak and morbid, but not without a heart inside.  It’s some serious soul searching but without religious baggage.

What's the story behind the story? Where did the idea for Paradise Earth come from?

I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but labeled as an apostate and kicked out when I was an adult.  It’s a pretty high-control religion (I don’t begrudge those who say ‘cult’) and there is no easy way to say, “this isn’t working for me anymore.”  So when I was kicked out it was pretty messy and I lost my family and friends in the process.  In the aftermath, I was kind of in this introspective limbo, staring at something I believed with all of my heart for decades.  One of those beliefs was that one day God was going to kill everybody on Earth, except for us Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The survivors would then live happily ever after on a paradise earth.

Which brings me to 2010, when I picked up a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories called Armageddon in Retrospect.  It contained a short story called The Bombing of Dresden, which was a sort of template for what would later become Slaughterhouse 5.  In that story Vonnegut goes into the gory details of what it was like to live through a firebombing that destroyed a city and having to clean up the dead.  As I read that I couldn’t help but to juxtapose that against my former beliefs.  I had this incredibly visceral image of Jehovah’s Witness survivors coming out of Armageddon only to be faced with mountains of the bodies of relatives, neighbors, workmates, etc.  How does a person face that?  How is that a paradise?  What happens when the carrot on the end of the stick turns out to be poison?  Those were the questions that I started with.

What's been the single most empowering piece of advice you've gotten when it comes to writing?

Do it every day.  It’s the same piece of advice you get when you say, I want to be a skilled piano player, or a good bowler, or master pickpocket.  A good starter goal is to write 500 words a day.  All of that writing won’t be genius, but you have to give yourself to the art, before the art gives back to you.

What's been your most challenging writing moment to date?

Probably writing Happiness: How to Find It.  I started writing that after I had finished the first draft of Paradise Earth. I wanted to approach the work with a sober and positive state of mind.  In some ways it was more difficult than writing from a position of despair. The response to the story has been positive.

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

I have an unpublished manuscript called With Fingers and Other Instruments.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to publish it because it reads like a sick love letter to anorexia nervosa.  So “worst” in terms of subject matter, but “best” in terms of writing.  It’s the manuscript I’ll probably keep perfecting until I die.  Then my heirs can decide if they want to publish it or bury it with me.

Do you share any traits or characteristics with your characters?

Yes, but only the good qualities.  Just kidding.   So while I’m not religious, I am a strong believer in the power of love.  I hope that comes across in the writing.  I also have an affinity for the idea that we can transcend horrible situations.  So even though my writing can skew very dark at times, there is optimism for better days that I’m drawn to.  In Paradise Earth one of the themes that I’m dealing with is the concept of personal rebirth and the discovery of identity.  That dovetails with my own experiences of leaving a religion that required oppressive conformity.

I noticed that you and Matt Maniscalo used the Watchtower for inspiration when collaborating on the cover for Paradise Earth. Why the Watchtower specifically?

Because the story centers around one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I wanted to use some iconic images from their literature for the cover art.  The image for the first volume Day Zero is a pretty spot on depiction of the end of the world through their eschatological lens.  In fact you could take that cover art and put in a Watchtower magazine and no Jehovah’s Witness will blink an eye.  For the cover art for the next two volumes we are going move away somewhat in a way that will mirror the story arc and a pretty profound theology shift.  It’s another way to comment on the horrors of that particular worldview.

What does a perfect day entail for you?

Hanging out at the Rose & Crown Pub at Epcot in Florida drinking a Hendrick’s gin and tonic, while singing drunken Irish bar songs with Japanese girls.  I could live in that day forever. 

In high school you were most likely to ….

… get in trouble for writing.  In high school I started a rebellious underground newspaper called The Subterrestrial.  It gave me an outlet for creative expression and general teen angst, though it didn’t always endear me to the faculty. 

You're stuck on an island... what 3 books would you kill to have with you?

I’m going to lose some serious writer cred here by admitting I don’t really read a lot.  There are two novels that I do read every year: The Passion by Jeanette Winterson and The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls-Wilder.  So definitely those two. The Bible would probably be my third choice. It contains some pretty profoundly inspirational things.  A lot of what Jesus says is open ended, without easy answers.  A person could probably contemplate on that for the rest of their lives.

Apocalypse tales seem to be a staple for many world religions. Which is your favorite end-times tale?

I’m happy to go on record and say that it isn’t Left Behind.  I really like the ancient end-times tales because they always had an idea of rebirth.  The world was not ending so much that it was transforming.  There is an element of creation as much as destruction. The deluge would be a good example of this.   In Paradise Earth this is a theme I’m also working with. 

I think there are a couple reasons why these tales are universal.  I believe that in our collective past we have experienced “end times” and that trauma has left a psychological scar. These tales also appeal to the notion of being able to leave our current life behind with all of its burdens and just get back to what really matters. We know in many ways it would be a harder life, but there is this niggling notion that it might be a better one – so long as there aren’t any zombies to worry about.
 
Where else can we find you?

On Sunday afternoons I’m generally writing at Global Brew in Edwardsville, IL.  Stop by; I’ll buy you a beer.  If you aren’t in the area, you can find me at my website (www.anthonymathenia.com), twitter (@armathenia) and facebook (www.facebook.com/amathenia).
 
* * *
 
I am officially fascinated with Paradise Earth, and I hope the rest of you are equally as intrigued. You can purchase Paradise Earth via Amazon now. And be sure to follow Anthony via the links above as he and Paradise Earth continue their blog tour in the coming weeks! 
 
Anthony, thanks so much for stopping by to chat today!  

xoxo,
Ayden


Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Tragedy of Failure. #SandyHook

I've never strayed from the tough subjects, whether on the blog or in my writing, simply because they are tough or hard to swallow. This post is no exception to that rule. Proceed with caution.

The tragedy at Sandy Hook has weighed heavily on my mind since I first heard the news on Friday. I cried when I heard what happened on Friday, and I haven't stopped crying yet. Every time someone brings it up, tears well in my eyes. My heart is broken for the families who have lost their children, for the community that has been torn apart, and for a nation that has grieved over far too many of these devastating tragedies already.

Yesterday, in an effort to understand why this happened, a family member walked up to me and said, "You're smart. You know about this stuff, why do people do things like this?"

Like most of you, I didn't know how to respond right away. I didn't know the person responsible for this. I never had a conversation with him. Until Friday, I didn't even know this person existed. But the sad fact is my family member was right. I do know about this stuff.

I grew up not far from Jonesboro, where two thirteen year old kids gunned down their classmates. I had a friend in Pearl, Mississippi when his classmate gunned down his friends. I knew students at Virginia Tech when their friends were gunned down. I went to school with a thirteen year old who went to prison for murdering a stranger. A former classmate is in prison for murdering her child. Another is in prison for murdering his girlfriend's child. My mom's best friend's 12-year old son went to prison for killing his stepfather. I've held the hands of parents whose children were shot or stabbed by complete strangers. And I've hugged parents whose babies were dying because of the abuse of babysitters and family members.

But I'm no different than any of you reading this because you know this violence, too.

You've seen it. You've lived through it. You may have even lost someone to it. And you may never be able to point to a single factor and say with absolute certainty that "this right here is why" these things happen. I have a degree in Forensic Psychology and another in Criminal Justice, but I can't point to a single thing and say "this is why" either.

Perhaps it is, as many have lamented this weekend, because our nation's response to mental illness is to pretend it doesn't exist. Two hundred years ago, we tossed the mentally ill into prisons and left them there until disease or violence claimed their lives. Fifty years ago, we placed them into state hospitals and institutions and experimented on them. Thirty years ago, we closed most of our mental health hospitals and tossed our mentally ill out onto the streets or into homes with caregivers incapable of meeting their needs without help we didn't offer. We let insurance providers decide who qualified for help, and those who didn't were tossed right back into prisons.

We deemed the mentally ill "criminal", and we haven't stopped since. We were outraged at the possibility of someone being "let off" by pleading insanity, so we made that plea all but impossible. Never mind that such a defense is used in less than one percent of criminal cases, is successful in less than .002 percent of cases, that defendants are more likely to deny mental illness than fake mental illness, or that psychologists can successfully determine in 95% of instances when mental illness is faked. Never mind that those who successfully use such a plea spend as much time or more in a mental health facility (often a maximum security mental health hospital) as those found guilty without an insanity plea attached. And never mind that many of those with a legitimate mental illness who cannot use the insanity defense, those who don't always know right from wrong or are easily influenced or prone to uncontrolled outbursts, now languish in prisons and learn from hardened criminals before they land right back on the streets.

Perhaps, as others have said this weekend, it's because we've decided that guns make us safe. We've decided the Second Amendment guarantees us the right to as many weapons as we want and as many bullets as we want. We've decided our right to the feeling of safety owning a gun provides trumps the right of safety for those who don't feel safe with so many guns floating around out there. We've decided our right to own weapons to see to our safety has absolutely nothing to do with the 9,000+ homicides a year in which guns were the weapon of choice. We've decided the only way to safely protect our stuff from a criminal is with a weapon. And we've decided that we can police our weapons ourselves and don't need strict regulation.

Never mind that having a gun in the home is more likely to result in an accidental fatality than in the prevention of a crime, or that guns were only used in defense successfully in two out of every 1,000 criminal incidents in a ten year period. Never mind that a child in the United States is more likely to die by gunfire than a United States soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Never mind that only 28% of incidents in which a gun was used as self-defense involved an offender shooting at the victim (or that nearly 20% of those self-defense incidents involved police officers). And never mind that in many areas of the nation, you aren't even required to report if your weapon is stolen.

Or perhaps, as we've also heard this weekend, this happened because our culture thrives on violence. We love horror and gore. We cheer when the good guy starts blowing things up. We want our video games and movies to have realistic violence, and we get testy when that violence doesn't live up to our expectations. We want criminals to die violently and painfully. In fact, we often demand their violent and painful deaths.

Never mind that kids spend hours in front of these games we demand. Never mind that many of those whose executions we cheered were exonerated after death. And never mind that those gory movies we're watching often have some grain of tragic truth in them.

We've seen the real-life victims kept in dungeons. We've found the real-life bodies of those who were chopped to pieces. We've found the skin-suits worn by the real-life Hannibal Lecters of the world and the torture instruments and chambers used by the real-life John Kramers of the world. We've sat in front of the news for hours, soaking in every detail of these horrid, real-life crimes. And we've watched with as much fascination as horror and revulsion.

So, perhaps, the problem isn't any one of these things. Perhaps, and more likely, the problem is the combination of all of these things. Things like the heartbreaking tragedy at Sandy Hook happen because our response to mental illness is subpar. Our right to protect our stuff from criminals trumps the right to life. Our desire to know what happened to the Jaycee Dugards and Elizabeth Smarts of the world allows us to badger them for answers until they cave and relive all the sordid details to sate our curiosity. Our love of violence and gore desensitizes us to the point where it takes a tragedy like the murders of twenty first-graders to truly shock and horrify us.

Don't believe me?

How many of you have heard about Vincent Ajeh? Deonte Judkins? Mikias T. Tibebu? Mark La Bonte? Christiaan Oldewage? Kayla Campbell? Khan Ash?

How many of you are truly surprised to learn that every one of them is a murder victim? Or that they were all under 18 and were killed within the last two months? Or that every single one of their deaths was on the news, either state or national? That two of them were killed by their parents? Four of them were shot? One of them was abducted?

What happened at Sandy Hook is absolutely devastating. The loss of the seven above should be equally as devastating to us as a nation and as individuals, but it isn't. Because we've become so used to parents killing their kids, or people abducting and killing kids, or kids being shot and killed on the street, that we no longer grieve as a nation for those children. When we hear about them, we get sad, and then we forget their names and their faces, just like I did. Until tonight, I knew only three of their stories, but I didn't remember their names. Like everyone else, I moved on to other things, and their names escaped me. This bothers me more than you know.
 
As a society, we only stop to feel the horror when twenty babies are gunned down in their classrooms on a busy Friday morning. We cry and scream and say the man who murdered them was evil. He was disturbed. He wasn't like us. But the sad fact is that he was one of ours. He was raised in our society, by members of our society, on the very same things that fuel the rest of our society. And that's a damn tragedy in and of itself because we're supposed to be great. We're supposed to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. We're supposed to be a nation moving forward and overcoming incredible odds together.

Instead, most of us don't know our next door neighbors. We don't even realize that the woman we've sat next to on the train every day for the last two years is suicidal. Or that the horror movie we're soaking up like sponges is based on a person who destroyed real lives five, ten, thirty years ago. We don't remember the name of the baby whose mom shook him to death two towns over, of the teenagers killed on street corners in our states last month, or of a single victim of a school shooting that happened more than a year ago. I'd met one of the little girls who died in Jonesboro, but I don't remember her name now.

And that's heartbreaking. Because those kids we swore we'd remember, the ones we cried for as a nation…we moved on and forgot. We forgot their names. We forgot their faces. We forgot why they died, where they died, and when they died. We lost the belief that it didn't have to happen and that we could have stopped it.

Maybe owning a gun will keep you safe. Maybe strict regulation won't stop criminals or the determined from getting their hands on guns. Maybe Adam Lanza would have stolen a gun had his mother not owned a single one. Maybe more equitable access to mental healthcare wouldn't have stopped this. Maybe he didn't have a mental illness at all. Maybe he never played Black Ops 2. Maybe he never saw The Expendables. Maybe he was born evil and couldn't have been saved no matter what we did. I don't know. I don't know if the police will ever figure out why he did what he did. But I do know that we made it easy for him, because we forgot our vow not to let it happen again when it was a theater in Aurora, or a campus in Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, Arkansas, Illinois, or Minnesota.
 
We could have stopped this, but we didn't. We let this happen. We keep letting it happen. And that's why we lost twenty, innocent little kids on Friday. We forgot how much we've already lost to apathy and division, and we failed them because of it.
 
That is devastating.
 

Ayden

 
Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Stricken (The War Scrolls: Book One)

Hello, loves!

I hope December is going fabulously for all of you. There are a lot of exciting changes occurring in my life right now... some of which I hope to share with all of you in the coming days. For now, I hope you'll be content with a teaser. It is from Stricken. And naturally, it hasn't been edited.

One corner of the photograph was blackened. Was this all that remained of her past then? One charred photograph and painful memories?

Sympathy for her welled again.

"Satisfied?" Anya demanded from behind him.

Kaeden turned reluctantly to face her. "You'll be safe here for now."

"Good." Anya bent to set the kitten on his feet and then straightened. "You can go now."

"No I can't."

Her mouth fell open.

"I can't just leave you here alone."

"I'm not a child," she snapped, crossing her arms over her chest. Her eyes narrowed on him, the lovely green color darkening. "I don't need a babysitter. Especially not one I don't like."

Her hostile honesty irritated him. He'd been a jerk when she came barreling into the house last night and again in the elevator moments ago, he knew that, but he was trying to make amends now. The least she could do is acknowledge his attempt to help her, or pretend to be civil. He'd settle for false civility.

"I don't like you either, sweetheart," he said, leaning back against the wall, "and I don't really care how old you are, but you're no use to me if you're dead. I'm not leaving until I know you aren't going to be killed as soon as I pull out of the parking lot."

"There's no one here!"

"Oh? You can sense werewolves and trolls now?"

Anya rolled her eyes at his sarcastic question. "I don't want you here."

"And I want the Senators to win the Stanley Cup, but it looks like we're both out of luck, doesn't it, sweetheart?"

Anya blinked as if surprised and then narrowed her eyes again. "Don't call me that."

"Does it bother you, sweetheart?"
 
            She flinched. "My dad called me sweetheart, asshole."

Ouch! It looks like Kaeden is digging his own grave right now. Silly boy. I completely sympathize with him on the hockey front though. I wouldn't mind the Senators winning the Stanley Cup. If, you know, this god forsaken lockout would end already! I desperately miss my games.

For those who've asked: My grandmother started chemotherapy last week. She had a rough weekend, but has otherwise been doing amazing. She's at home now, and will start the next round of chemo after the New Year. Thank you for checking on her, and for all of the thoughts and prayers you have been sending her way. They are much appreciated by all of us.

Losh is also doing absolutely wonderful. He's been off the ventilator for six weeks now (yay!) and has breezed through it. So long as he has no setbacks this winter, his doctors plan to cap his trach this spring, and then remove it entirely this summer. We cannot even begin to tell you how exciting this news has been. We're cautiously optimistic that things will proceed as planned and our little superhero will celebrate his 8th birthday by getting his trach out. Thanks as always for asking after him. Your emails and tweets make him feel like a rockstar. :)

xoxo,
Ayden



Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Catch Your Death with Andrew Buckley and @CuriosityQuills

Curiosity Quills has a fun new contest for you to celebrate the release of Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish by Andrew Buckley. Check out the details below. :)

via Curiosity Quills:

Have you seen Death lately? If you’re lucky enough, you can snap a shot of Death before it retires for good in the Bahamas. Last time on sight, eye witnesses reported Death was riding a bike. What will your video of Death show us?

Send us the link to your film to marketing@curiosityquills.com. The footage with the highest number of views wins a prize to hang out with Death on a white sanded beach and cocktails in hand.*

No gore. No porn. No pooping, peeing, vomiting. No violence. No political, religious, racial themes either. If your video is deemed offensive for any of the aforementioned reasons or just because it’s gross and you have no shame, you will be automatically disqualified from the contest.

You’ve been warned. Now get your cameras rolling and catch you on YouTube.

You can also catch death on Facebook.

wanted poster

*Terms and conditions apply. When entering into a contract with death, it’s good to read the fine print. You can check out all of the contest rules here.

For more tips on where you might catch death, check out our newest release, the humorous fantasy Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish by Andrew Buckley.

From the Bahamas to Heathrow airport, to the rain soaked streets of London the dead have ceased dying.

This is inconvenient for a number of reasons but what’s the real reason behind the chaos?

In London we find Nigel Reinhardt, a disgraced, confused, and gifted London police constable who owns a prophetic goldfish. In Ireland the Angel of Death questions the value and position of his current employment. At Majestic Technologies Celina McMannis works diligently on a top secret project. At the South Pole there lives a very unhappy penguin.

When the Devil hatches a nefarious plot to take over the world by possessing a cute little kitty and seizing a factory of robotic Christmas elves it’s up to Nigel and his group of unlikely companions to save the world or die trying… or both.

Death-Devil-Goldfish-e1354749129181
 
 
Sounds like fun, doesn't it?!
 
You can pick up a copy of Death, the Devil, and the Goldfish at Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES or on Kobo.
 
xoxo,
Ayden

Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Friday, December 7, 2012

Giving Back on a Budget: Ten Quick, No-Cost Ways to Do Good.


One of my favorite things about this time of year is witnessing friends and family embrace the spirit of giving. There's nothing more satisfying than doing a good deed for another. And, for many, the small things we do to give back to others will make all the difference in the world. But the sad reality is that, no matter how good our intentions, it can be so difficult to find the time or money to get involved, especially at this time of year. But being strapped for cash and time doesn't mean you can't give back in some way in the coming weeks and months!
 
You don't have to spend a fortune, or volunteers hours of your time to make a difference. Sometimes, even the smallest act of kindness can mean the most. It is often those small things that spread ripples throughout a community, and those ever widening ripples can profoundly impact so many. To me, that is a the true miracle of this season, and it's one worth sharing!

I've put together a list of ten small ways you can get involved this holiday season and help make a difference for someone in need. These littles acts cost you nothing or next to nothing, and take very little time, but can go a long way in bringing a smile to a neighbors face, helping your favorite charities continue with their mission even when you can't support them on the level you might like, or even changing the life of someone when that change is most needed.

I hope you'll put at least one of these ideas (or one like them) to use in the weeks ahead and remember that, amidst all the stress and frustration this season can bring, one of the greatest gifts you can give is a smile.

1. Save and donate the little tabs on top of soda and soup cans for your Ronald McDonald Houses. Last year, the Ronald McDonald House of Little Rock was able to raise 10,000.00 with these tabs, and it cost donors nothing more than a few minutes of their time and their trash! That $10k helped a single Ronald McDonald House provide a home away from home for over 800 families with critically ill children. You can bring/ship your tabs to your Ronald McDonald House, or take them to a local recycling center and send your RMH the check. It takes around 1200 tabs to make a pound, and the average House makes .50 per pound at recycling. You can just imagine the sheer number of people it takes to help raise over 10k, so every little bit helps!

2. Save and donate the toiletries hotels provide for you during your stay to your local homeless shelters or Ronald McDonald Houses. These cost you next to nothing, but can help keep costs down for organizations already operating on a shoestring budget. Other small items to consider include all of those samples you get in the mail... items like toothbrushes and tooth paste, Q-tips, feminine products, diapers and wipes, individual sized snacks, etc. These are always useful! The link above can help you locate a homeless shelter in your area.



3. Make room on your book shelves for new items by donating your old books to a local literacy program or library. They can help ensure these items are distributed to children and adults most in need. Call your local library if you need help locating a literacy program in your area and couldn't find one on the list linked above..

4. Donate blood to the American Red Cross or a similar organization. This takes around half an hour, but can literally be the difference between life and death for someone. You can donate at a local blood drive, or at an area American Red Cross center.

5. Make room for new toys on your child's shelf by donating used toys to a local charity. If you aren't sure what charities take used toys or can't drop them off yourself, check out Donation Town. They pick-up used toys all across the nation and distribute them, for free. You can find more information for your area at: http://www.donationtown.org/news/donate-toys.html.

6. Donate other new/used items (such as clothing, appliances, electronics, magazines, etc.) to a Boys and Girls Club. They will typically pick these items up for free. You can also use Donation Town (linked in #5 above) to locate charities that accept items like these.

7. Buy too many paper plates or napkins for a get together? Donate those items to a homeless shelter, a Ronald McDonald House, or a similar organization via the United Way's Donate an Item program. They are always in need of items like this. Other small items you can donate to these organizations include paper or plastic cups, saran wrap and aluminum foil, Lysol sprays and wipes, hand soaps and detergents, Band-Aids, etc. You can pick most of these items up at a local Dollar Store. 


8. Donate your unused airline miles to the Make-a-Wish Foundation! The organization uses donated miles to send Wish kids and their families to their Wish destinations all around the world. You can also donate your credit card rewards to charity in most instances. Your credit card provider can help you do this.

9. Get your kids involved in the spirit of giving by making and sending cards or letters to sick children through programs like Hugs and Hope. Many of these children have terminal illnesses and spend weeks on end in the hospital with little to do. Receiving a note can really brighten their days. You can get involved at: http://www.hugsandhope.org/kidslist.htm. You can also send cards and letters to the elderly in nursing home and long-term care facilities or shut-ins. Your local churches, Senior center, and/or nursing homes should be able to help provide you with a list, or you can drop off a batch of cards to these organizations for delivery. 

10. Shop and search online through a program like GoodSearch, GoodShop, Greater Good or iGive. These search engines and shopping portals allow you to select a charity, and will donate (with the help of sponors and the stores you're shopping with) a certain percentage of sales to the charity you selected. This means you knock a few items off of your shopping list, and for no extra cost, you help support a charity in need!

If you need help locating a program or information for your area, please let me know. I'm always happy to help. And if you know of similar programs in your country or region, please do share them so I can pass the information along. :)
 
Happy Giving, everyone!
 
xoxo,
Ayden


Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sanity Vacuum by @TheaIsis! and the Questions for quIRK #bloghop

In celebration of Thea Gregory's new release, Sanity Vacuum, Thea has announced a special contest and blog hop! Yay!

To enter, you'll add your blog to the linky at the end of this post, grab the banner, and then answer one simple question.

Easy, right?!

The person with the best question will see said question featured in Thea's second novel, and will win a copy of Sanity Vacuum (via Amazon) from Courtney Worth Young. What's not to love about this? Your very own shiny new novel, and your question immortalized in print.

Here is the question:


Q: If you could ask a quIRK, the supercomputer, ANY QUESTION in the universe, what would it be? Why?

Post your question to your blog by December 12th. Thea will announce the winner on Monday, December 17th. And while you're at it, make sure to visit Thea's blog and tell her congratulations on a very successful book launch!

Sanity Vacuum Summary:


 
Vivian Skye just finished university, and landed a dream internship.

Not many would consider the distant and isolated Extra-Galactic Observatory cushy, but to Vivian it’s a dream come true. Hailing from the low-tech planet of Aurora, she studied for years to work on advanced quantum supercomputers. This is her chance to start a career and leave her past life behind.

Her assignment is simple: a routine upgrade for the station’s supercomputer, quIRK.

Her reception isn’t a friendly, one, and she finds that her only friend is quIRK. However, the station’s administrator, Bryce Zimmer is obsessed with quIRK—he suspects that the AI may have achieved sentience, something explicitly prohibited by the ABACUS Protocol.

Bryce’s traumatic and privileged past makes him distrust Vivian from the beginning; his jealously compels him to set Vivian and quIRK against each other. Deciding that the ends justify the means, his power-hungry sabotage threatens to consume the entire station and send them into the unknown void of intergalactic space.

Vivian must struggle to survive not only Bryce’s megalomania, but also the emerging artificial
super intelligence that is quIRK.


About the Author:

Thea writes zombie stories and science fiction. She was raised in rural Quebec, where her imagination was often her only friend, and this upbringing also engendered a fanatical love of reading and books.

Thea moved to the city at the tender age of 17 to study science, eventually majoring in physics, because physics is awesome. Her first love has always been science (fiction), and she maintains an unquenchable thirst for discovery and the unknown.

Hobbies: Reading, writing, cooking, gardening, yoga, cycling, gaming, anything Star Trek or Dune related, daydreaming, exploring, and trying new things.

Thea has two cats (Pip and Bonk), and one boyfriend (with two cats of his own), a former video game designer who moonlights as a cover artist.

You can grab a copy of Sanity Vacuum at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES.
xoxo,
Ayden 
 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fall: The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book Two @Fandom4Preemies Outtake

As I've mentioned often in the last few months, I've donated a chapter of Fall to the Fandom for Preemies Compilation! The fabulous Amber Wilson designed the following cover to represent the chapter in the compilation.

Designed by Amber Wilson

I love the apocalyptic feel to the design, don't you? It's a great representation of the setting for the chapter donated to the Compilation. :)

Here's the summary:

The Laki volcanic fissure is burning Iceland alive, and Jon du Loc and Katrin Steffanson are losing hope. How are they to save their people when nature itself seems to have aligned itself with the deadly might of Skoll and Hati?

Wait, what?! If you're wondering who the heck Jon and Katrin are, or where Dace and Ari are, well... let's just say being reincarnated time and again comes with all sorts of interesting twists and turns. :)

For a $5 donation to the March of Dimes through January 1st, you can receive the compilation, which includes the prologue to Fall and short stories, fanfiction, and poetry from authors all around the world. This year, other participating authors include Jessa Russo, Chelle Lynn, Lisa Collicutt, and Kay Froebel.

Here's how it works.

1. Go to: http://marchofdimes.com and donate a minimum of $5.
2. Forward your confirmation receipt (minus any personal details such as your name, address, payment method, etc) to fandomforpreemies@gmail.com.
3. The Fandom for Preemies team will email you a copy of the compilation.
4. In January, the FFP team will compile a list of all donors, and one donor will also win a copy of FADE, and a copy of EVER by Jessa Russo.

The Compilation is not for sale anywhere. To receive it, you must donate to the March of Dimes by January 1, 2013. This way, 100% of your donation goes directly to the March of Dimes to aid in the fight to end prematurity and eliminate birth defects in nations around the world.

Easy enough, right?

And remember, through March of 2013, 10% of proceeds from sales of FADE will be donated to the March of Dimes, and an additional 10% will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas, a nonprofit that provides a home away from home for families facing medical crisis. RMHCA serves families who have a child undergoing cancer treatment, who have had a transplant, or are in a pediatric intensive care or burn unit in Arkansas (home to one of the best Children's Hospitals in the nation).

To learn more about Fandom for Preemies, please visit: http://fandomforpreemies.blogspot.com.

xoxo,
Ayden



Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo