Sunday, November 29, 2015

World Hunger Fundraiser Through Christmas!!

So, those of you that saw my post on 11/11 knew this was coming. I released Black Magic and Mojitos on Smashwords for free for the first two weeks (through TG). Now comes the second phase of my end-of-year shebang - ALL proceeds through Christmas go to support Heifer International in fighting world hunger!

Heifer is a unique sustainable project that teaches people small business skills using animals so that they never go hungry again. They also require families to pass on the livestock their animal has to other families in need, so there's this great ripple effect in the impact of their programs. Visit their website to learn more.

I'm hoping to raise $500 to buy a heifer cow for a family. You can buy "shares" of an animal at much lower costs, and I've donated to this charity each year for about a decade now, but never bought a whole heifer. That'd be pretty rad, so please help me spread the word! Fun books for you + money to fight world hunger + all of us feeling good. A win-win for everyone.

You can buy Black Magic and Mojitos for 99 cents on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. After Christmas, I'll post an update on how things went!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I spent the week in Asheville, NC (a few pics below). How was your TG? As usual, I'm SO grateful for this lovely writing community, and very excited for a rockin' holiday season! 



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cover Reveal - The Undead Road by David Powers King!

Hello, lovely writer friends! Today I'm helping writer buddy David Powers King kick off his cover reveal with gusto and lots of confetti! Or maybe brain-fetti since this is a zombie book? LOL, I'll quit making lame jokes and let you see it. It's done by Steven Novak, who is also my cover artist, and is totally amazeballs!! Look to the right for mine... BTW it's FREE on Smashwords through the 27th.

And now!

I'm going to....

Do one of those dramatic scrolldowns...

Ahhhh, it's killing you isn't it???

And here it is!!

Nice, eh?? I think it rocks! Here's the blurb and the deets:

Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse …

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Ebook Release: January 1st, 2016
Paperback: January 26th, 2016

Woot! And there's a contest, too:

A while ago, David invited the blogosphere to let him turn one unfortunate lucky contestant into a zombie for The Undead Road. The winner was Ilima Todd, who is now the awesome author of Remake. The next installment of My Zombie Summer is underway, and David wants to do this contest again. Want to be in a zombie book? Not only is this your chance, but it is your choice!

Between now and next Wednesday, send an email to dpowersking [at] gmail [dot] com, with the subject line: Zombify Me! Contest. In your email, David wants you to tell him three things:

1: The name you will be identified as (example: your first name).
2: A description of yourself—the more detailed you are, the better.
3: How would you like the survivors to put you out of your misery?

Four casualties contestants will be chosen on Wednesday, November 25th. The most inventive or interesting entry will be zombified! The other three who are unlucky fortunate enough to survive will be given special honors. Winners will be announced on December 2nd on David’s blog.

Prizes? The winner will be zombified in the pages of My Zombie Summer: Part Two, receive a signed proof of the novel (when it’s ready), and a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card. The runner ups will receive a free ebook of The Undead Road for their Kindle (other platforms TBA).

About the Author:

David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Have fun zombifying yourself!! FYI friends, I'm heading out of town Saturday for a week so I may not be able to respond to comments during that time. But have a lovely Turkey Day everybody!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Smashwords Debut + My Book FREE + World Hunger Fundraiser

Exciting things to announce, writer friends!! Today, 11/11, is the perfect day for it since 11 is my favorite number. From now, through pretty much the end of the year, I am MOVING and SHAKING and things are going to be AMAZEBALLS for everyone involved.

Announcement 1: The Smashwords Debut of Black Magic & Mojitos!

Black Magic and Mojitos, my urban fantasy novelette, has been out just over three months now on Amazon exclusively, and I decided to mix things up and it is now up on Smashwords, and soon all of Smashwords' distributors (B&N, Kobo, Apple, etc.)! To celebrate, Black Magic and Mojitos will be FREE through Thanksgiving! Which is why I'm really excited about Smashwords, because I can offer my books for free for as long as I want, and am not limited to 5 days within a 90 day period like Amazon. I love Amazon too, but I wanted more flexibility. It's still on Amazon, too, just not in their exclusive program.

Announcement 2: Heifer International World Hunger Fundraiser!

For the past decade or so, I've given a small donation at the end of the year to Heifer International, my favorite charity. The reason Heifer is so unique is that they don't just give food to people. They give an animal to someone, not to eat, but one that produces food, like a cow, goat, chicken, or honeybees. Then they teach them how to care for this animal and not only feed their family, but sell the excess so that they have a sustainable small business. Further, they have them donate an offspring from their animal to another family in need. From there, it expands outwards in a multiplier effect with more and more families touched by the program. It's really fantastic, and I just found out yesterday that Heifer is fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss' fave charity, too! Super cool.

So, after my free debut celebration, I will change my book on Smashwords to the "pick your own price" option, and through Christmas, ALL proceeds will go to Heifer. I will not keep any of it, whatever Smashwords sends me, I will send to Heifer. I am SUPER STOKED about this, it feels awesome and wonderful and I'm delighted to have a book out there with which I can raise funds for charity!

Please join me in spreading the word about my year-end BOOKS FIGHT WORLD HUNGER party!! Let's rock this out.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Query That Got Me My Agent

Happy Pay-It-Forward Friday!! I hope everyone's had a lovely week. If you're looking for my IWSG post, click here.

I've recently started Pay-It-Forward Friday, and what I do is post something of help to the writing community. So far, the focus has been on queries. Weirdly, I love query letters, though most people seem to hate them. If you have one you need help with, let me know! Or, if you have one you want to brag on, I'd be happy to feature that as well. Today I suppose I have more of the latter - since I had no sacrificial lambs on the query critique alter, I'm posting the query that snagged my agent's attention, and got me a full request. Here it is, and my notes are interspersed in purple:

Ms. Lu,

Always address the agent formally. Check, doubly and triply, you have spelled the name right!!! 

Evryn’s got mad skills at playing hide and seek. She can find lost children, hack the most secure databases, pretty much anything. Except for the one thing she desires most: the knowledge of who her parents are, why they abandoned her, and what her special talent means about who and what she really is.

There is differing advice from agents on this, but I like to jump right into the story on the first line. I put the more drab details like word count at the end. Agents are super busy and may only read a line or two, so I want them to be great ones! Note: many agents hate a query opening with a question, so use caution with that.

It took me a while to get this paragraph right:
  •  I needed to lay a tiny bit of back story just so it made sense, without getting bogged down. 
  • It needed to be interesting to hook the agent. 
  • I've written it with the same voice/tone of my story - I am a big fan of this in queries. Don't go overboard, but this is a way to show your writing style.
  • I've also revealed a bit about Evryn's character - what she desires most (the truth about her parents and herself)
So, when a guy named Seeker appears quite literally out of nowhere, claiming to know about her past and offering her a job, Evryn can’t say yes fast enough. Even if it does mean following him to another realm. As in, mind-blowingly, not Earth. Apparently she’s part of an elite clan of Hunters descending from Artemis who can find just about anything in all of time and space. As the last of Artemis’ direct lineage, Evryn is her clan’s best shot at finding a lost city before rival clans do.

Here I start to lay out the main plot point. I had to do some world-building too, because this is fantasy. Again, a balance to not get bogged down.

Not just any city, but the flying, realm-hopping city of Skye. Aboard Skye is the Artifex, a magical device with the power to create or destroy worlds. Everyone wants the device, and with Evryn’s super-powered lineage, it means everyone wants her, too. It’s hard to decide who she can trust, even within her own clan. After she discovers a strange, alluring connection to the Artifex, she’s not even sure she can trust herself. Worse yet, the only person who may be able to help her is the Timekeeper, the sadistic ancient being who created the Artifex. An interdimensional war is brewing, and Evryn is right at the epicenter of it all.

  • More details on the plot
  • The stakes!! This is important in any query. Without stakes there's no tension. Amp up that tension!

Let the hunt begin.

I like to end queries with some kind of clever, teaser-ish phrase, but it's not necessary.

My new adult contemporary fantasy HUNTRESS FOUND is complete at 85,000 words. Per your submission guidelines, I’ve included the first ten pages and a brief synopsis below. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Now you can (and should) add the drab details:

  • Genre
  • Title in ALL CAPS (it looks weird, but it's proper etiquette)
  • Word count (this is important - don't forget!)
  • Then I like to confirm to them that I have read and complied with their submission guidelines - it personalizes the query, and lets them know you're prepared and organized.
  • If you have any legit publishing credentials, add that in. Note: LEGIT. I was published in a local newspaper and some zines years ago, but I'm not listing that because it sounds amateurish. The rule is, you can list it if you got paid. I'd say you could fudge on this a little, if you didn't get paid, but it was a well-known publication. Use good judgment. 
  • Same with awards - list any writing awards that are well known, but not super minor stuff. I won some writing contests on different blogs, some of them even well known contests in the writing community, but I aired on the side of caution and didn't include it. You don't want to sound unprofessional.
  • And in that same vein, NEVER mention "I'm an unpublished author", or "This is my first novel". It's not necessary to mention that and many agents report they feel it sounds unprofessional.
  • Overall: hook 'em good, keep it short and sweet!

Alexia Chamberlynn
(850) 443-6075

This was an e-query (hardly anyone takes paper anymore), so I everything is left justified. I also included my main social media sites in my signature block so they can see I am market savvy. 

Hope that was helpful! If you have a query you want me to feature, please let me know - whether it's a critique or a brag you're looking for. 

Have a fabulous weekend, writer friends!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Thrills and Chills of Being on Sub!!

Hi, writer friends! I'm posting today for the Insecure Writers Support Group monthly blog hop. My topic for the post, appropriately since it pervades my thoughts each day: being on submission with publishers! 

I signed with my lovely agent Sandy Lu in August, and after a couple rounds of minor edits on my contemporary fantasy, Huntress Found, we went on sub in mid September! It's true what they say - in the life of a writer, you rarely achieve such heights that you never have to worry about rejection again. When you're querying agents, you just want to get that agent. Then when you get an agent, it's on to possible rejection by publishers. And once you get published, there are always people that don't like your book. It really never ends, which is why I try to stay as relaxed as possible about the whole thing. If we let ourselves get sucked down in that maelstrom, jumping from one insecurity to the next, it sucks a lot of the joy out of writing. So, for now I wait patiently for news. Sandy says it usually takes editors eight to twelve weeks to read a manuscript, so we might start hearing back this month. If you'll bear with me for an Oprah moment, I like to use positive visualization and imagine hearing the news that editor(s) love my book. And that's how I stay sane with it all! That, and gratitude for the things I do have and the lessons I've learned.

In the vein of agents, I've started doing query brags and critiques as my way of paying it forward to the writing community. On Friday I'm posting the query that got my agent's attention. If you have a query you want help on (MG, YA, NA or adult), or a query that brought you success, let me know! Otherwise, I hope everyone's having an awesome week.