Last week I headed out the door to pick my kiddos from school and I found a big, beautiful box on my front porch. It had my name on it (packages at my house are rarely addressed to me) and after a preliminary lift test I could tell it was heavy. My heart jumped. The last time I had this type of box delivered to my front porch it was filled with my author copies of WRECKAGE. I had heard rumbles of an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of WHEN I’M GONE being available, but I’d yet to set eyes on the real thing. How I managed to ignore the box, walk to school like a semi-normal parental figure, pick up the kids and refrain from running home I’ll never know.
Once I got the kids going on homework and snack, I ran out, grabbed the box and ripped it open. I saw a box FULL of beautiful ARCs stared back at me. Unfortunately, the cover is not official yet so I can’t post a picture of the box so I’ve decided to do something even better.
Now, remember, WHEN I’M GONE doesn’t launch until March, 15th 2016 BUT I thought some of you might like a sneak peek. So, I’ve put aside THREE copies of WHEN I’M GONE to give away right now. Yes. Right now!
If you’d like the chance to receive one of these three ARCs, the rules are pretty simple. Just sign up for my brand new newsletter and you’ll be entered to win. Simple as that. I’ll announce the winners in my first newsletter on December 15th.
Quite a few people have taken us up on the offer. Through November, Kate and I will be posting these critiques on Mondays and Wednesdays. Any writer can learn from these - not just the author of the material being critiqued. You'll see my comments in green.
Only the Godless may live while the rest of the world burns, but seventeen-year-old Ella Shepard refuses to let hope burn with it.
After the God war anyone left believing in a deity was branded a Witch and banished from the city Sanctuary. possibly vague wording here -- is the city named Sanctuary, or is there a sanctuary within the city? Paranoid the Witches Again, confusion - is Paranoid the name of a group? are planning a revolt against who? , Chief Pierceson Is this a government leader? A police enforcer? sends his army of Crusaders to kill and burn anyone found outside the city, except the children. Anyone under seventeen is brainwashed and turned into his army of Crusaders, a punishment worse than death. But why banish them if they were going to kill them in the first place? Now they have to hunt them down...
Born outside the city, Ella spends her life running and hiding from the Crusaders, but she’s always had her family by her side. When the soulless like actually soulless? or just really mean people? army kills her parents and takes her younger sister to turn into a heartless killer like them, she will have to decide: follow her family’s original plan to find an underground city of safety or go to the one place she promised to never enter to save her sister’s soul before it’s too late. You need a question mark here. And we need to know more about the soul issue. Are the Crusaders truly and actually soulless? Or is this more a metaphorical statement?
Along the way, a fire-scarred Crusader saves her life making her question everything her parents told her about the merciless soldiers. A boy with a hero complex is this the same person as the Crusader? decides he’s going to protect her, even if she doesn’t want it. And Ella will face her inner demons, discovering how easy it is to turn into the very people she hates. We need to know more about that - sounds like there's an inner conflict at work here too, but it's just tossed on at the end.
Tina and I sneak out of the dilapidated that's a big word to toss out in the first sentence cottage as the sun begins to rise, making our way to the river where I can work on Tina’s fighting skills without our parents’ knowledge. Against my better judgment, I wear the white dress Mom made for my birthday. Yeah that seems flat out silly - 1) fighting in a dress 2) a new white one The soft fabric slides over my skin, blossoming out from my waist and tickling my leg just above my knee where the lacy trim ends. I promise myself I’m going to be good today. The dress will still be glowing like an angel’s gown when I take it off tonight. As usual it’s a promise I break. Unless there's a real plot reason for her to be wearing this dress, it should go.
“Is this how I should stand?” Tina asks from the rocky embankment as I stand knee deep in the murky river with a fishing pole in my hand. I look over at her words.
“Almost. Bend your knees a little bit more and spread your feet further apart.”
“Yeah just like that,” I say paying attention to the water. “Keep doing that.” The line tightens on the pole. I’ve caught something. I reel it in. It takes a lot of energy to get it near me. Whatever it is, it’s big. I hope it tastes good. Lots of choppy sentences here, an it's all telling after the first line or so.
“Did you catch one?” Tina asks. “Mom’s going to be so proud of us when she sees what we’ve done.” This dialogue doesn't feel organic.
I stare at the muddy object swinging in front of my face. “Yeah. I don’t think Mom’s going to be proud we caught an old boot for breakfast,” I say back. Tina grunts in response. I look back to see her squatting with her face scrunched up. “What are you doing?” I laugh.
“You told me this is how I should stand.”
“You look like you’re straining to poop.” I’m still laughing with hands on my knees, trying not to fall into the water. “Bring your butt in and bend your knees a little less.”
Tina doesn’t find my laughter or her situation funny. “You said you were going to teach me to fight.” Decent question, since it's hard to teach someone to fight while you're fishing. She breaks the pose, placing one hand on her hip.
Right now I'd say this ms is starting in the wrong place. I don't have a sense of place, or genre from this first page. I'm also not being pulled in because the MC is making silly decisions (wearing a new, white dress to fish and teach her sister to fight), and it feels like there's nothing at stake here in the opening. These could be any sisters, in just about any setting. Get voice, genre-feel, and some kind of indication of what's going on from the beginning.
It all starts today with my visit to the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library on Emerson Avenue. I'll be there from 10am to 1pm with books and posters for sale. Autographs are, of course, no extra charge. That's because I don't think it's fair for you to make me pay to sign your book. I hope you'll come by and say hi even if you don't need a book. I love to see my friends--even the ones I haven't met yet. By the way, I'll be giving away a book and a poster.
And then next Saturday is a full-blown party. It will all take place in Emmanuel Baptist Church's Fellowship Hall. If you park in the back lot, it's on the left side. You can also come in through the courtyard. Festivities begin at 4pm with Christmas music courtesy of Michael Bublé (It's recorded--he couldn't make it, as much as he wanted to.), light refreshments, and good fellowship. Sometime between 4:30 and 5:00, I'll do readings from both In The Shadow and my new prequel novella, "Harry and the Redheaded Angel." I'll also answer questions. Finally, I'll be signing books and posters for a while. The evening will end with some more prizes to give away. Some lucky person will walk away with a boxed set of all three Shalan Adventures. Sadly, there's no actual box. It's just a figure of speech. The books are real, though. I'll also give away a couple of signed posters.
I hope you can make it to one of my events. Both would be fun, but I'm not greedy.
By the way, I'll be doing a special bonus Thanksgiving post later this week, so watch out for that!
It feels like it has been eons. Ages. As if the world has overcome me in the sense of passing. By this, I’m referring to my absence in many things. From this fantastic website. From any major writing. College life as well as work life have consumed most of my available free time. Trust, I’ve had fleeting story ideas, all of which do not return once they pass through the gigantic filter that is my brain. I’ve finally found time to write something that was non-academic and not bound by the rules of an essay, so for the first time in a long time it feels good to write something with entirely my own freedom.
I’m quickly approaching my 20th birthday, and I’m feeling old. Now, of course, I know that it’s silly of me to feel this way (it’s not like I should fear getting AARP letters in the mail, or start considering nursing home options) but this literal transition from teenager to adulthood is a little daunting to me. I think it’s because of this beautiful, man-made thing I call time that has me afraid. We are all governed by our own metaphorical hour-glass that will one day run out of sand. And each grain drop terrifies me.
Funny enough, it wasn’t even until very recently (about the start of this semester) that I began to feel this sense of having no time. As if not just my own, but the whole world's hourglass was about to drop its last grain. Perhaps it is merely my own fears projected onto my view of the universe, but I cannot shake this feeling. I do not know what this means, but I hope the feeling goes away. It is hard for me to fathom the future; where will my writing go? Will I have a wife and kids? What will happen?
There are so many things that I imagine when I consider my future. But what if there is not as much time as I imagined? What if things were indeed about to wrap up? The writer in me enjoys toying with this idea of having no time, but the “self” version of me is very uncertain. There are many firsts that I still want to experience; many things I still wanted to accomplish. The bits and pieces of poetry/writing that I’ve done over the past six months or so have had a dominating (and perhaps not so underlying) theme of “time” and the lack of it.
The reason that this is happened is because there are no filters with my writing. I write what I feel, what I’m afraid of. It is therapeutic for me. If I create characters and stories that are of things I’m afraid of or things that make me sad, it makes me stronger towards it somehow. Don’t ask me why; my brain is very weird that way. So here is just another example of that—I’m writing about time and how much it scares me.
Everything comes to an end sooner or later; all things go. I feel like everyone subconsciously is aware of this, but, naturally, they don’t want to talk about it. I’m on both sides of the fence—no, I do not want to talk about the end of things, but at the same time, you can’t avoid it. So why not discuss it? Why not share ideas and theories and stories? Stories are one of my favorite things (if you haven’t already figured that out already) and guess what? All stories have an end. Everyone is living their own story right now. It had a beginning, is currently experiencing the middle, and will one day reach its end. So if we think of life as just one big metaphorical book, I know how to handle that. I can grasp this concept.
At the end of it all, at the most basic fundamentals of life, regardless of what religion you believe in, we are eternal beings. We are not here for this brief amount of time. We were not created for that purpose, to just be born and then die and become nothing. With that, I find some comfort, that perhaps while we will one day reach the end of one era, it will not truly be the end of myself.
The thought of being able to write forever is comforting, but more comforting is the fact that, no matter how it all plays out, it is not truly the end.
Until next time,
I'm, here just to rely a message to all 2000+ viewers who've seen the blog postings! Thank, you for all of your support...
For, me to step out of the shadows of poetry and expand to film is a big leap for someone like me..Yes, I grew up in the impoverished communities of Chicago but through the struggles I've learned how to do more then just survive but thrive.
Through, self-employment that is the only way to advance....In, my world through creative expression I've been able to create a world that I am truly proud of. The objective is to someday literally own the jet building create a production company that would give a voice to an under served population...
Right, now as we speak I have a fundraiser on the website indiegogo.com which is geared toward making the project His Voice His Movement a success at the box office but I am asking for your support... If, all of the 2000 plus viewers would lend a hand then we can send the message to Hollywood that the legacy of MJ is one that can't be denied.
For, every contribution that's made you do get a perk or two as a result of your efforts to spread the word and donate. Those perks include shout out's on cyberspace to Movie Merchandise! No, matter the level of contributions made you'll get a Perk!
Even, if you go out on my website www.facebook.com/HVHMCHI16 you can fill out the mailing list, answer the trivia questions and get 2 free tickets to the premier in Chicago! Of course you would handle all transportation and lodging on your own!
There, is a beauty in knowing that MJ influenced not just mere blocks (sorry Spike Lee) but nations......
Everybody, knows that the Jackson dynasty started in the MId-West...Now, it's our time to say thank you!
When, you have dreams in life you can't allow your surroundings to determine your success! You, can have a million No's keep pushing and find that there is one yes waiting in the midst of those sea of No's...
It, will get tough and the road may seem endless but take heart your help is just a step or two away...
Earnings DetailsEarnings for Q2 2014 fell 20% from the same period last year to $0.78/share, but were inline with (downward) revised company projections. Revenues for Q2 2014 grew only 1.7% from the same period last year to $17.4 billion. Meanwhile, costs increased 3.6% to $12.2 billion as the company moncler outlet engaged in more marketing and relied more heavily on discounts. Hence, gross margins (((SalesCost of Sales)/Sales)100) are down to 30.1% from 31.4% in the same period last year.
There were also some onetime charges related to the security breach in credit card info, interest expenses, and asset impairment. These are detailed below.
All together, these charges are expected to reduce earnings by $0.48/share for the fiscal year.
No Quick Fix in CanadaJust a year and a half ago, Target carried out an ambitious plan to open 124 new stores in Canada over just a few months time. The plan was marred by poor execution and Canadian shoppers complained that the Canadian experience at Target was not the same as the American one. Now, it is working on turning around an operational disaster. For Q2 2014, Target reports a 63% increase in sales in Canada, but most of this was from opening of new stores. In fact, comparable sales were down 11.4%. Gross margins were also down to 18.4% from 31.6% in the same period last year.
Canada is an important market to fix and once it is fixed, Canada may inject some much needed growth into Target. moncler outlet online I am confident that the company can turn around the situation once it addresses the clear issues that Canadian shoppers have pointed out.
“A must read for students and nostalgic alumni”
Who is the voice behind the audiobook version of Champagne and Lemon Drops? Cris Dukehart!
She graciously allowed me to interview her and here’s the behind-the-scenes scoop on narrating an audiobook as well as what it was like immersing herself in Blueberry Springs as she recorded Champagne and Lemon Drops.
Who was your favourite Blueberry Springs character?
EEEP! That’s so HARD! What is that saying? That picking a favorite character is like picking a favorite child?
NOW… if you had asked my favorite character to VOICE… that one’s a little easier. Ever since I was cast, in 4th grade, as one of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters and after a brief but VERY dramatic period of grieving and lamentation at NOT being cast as the sweetly chirping, lovely (BLONDE!) heroine, realized how much more FUN it was to PLAY BAD… to rip a dress to shreds without consequence (EVEN TO CHEERS)… to walk with an exaggerated hip sway and nasty sneer (knowing that after the show Cinderella was coming over to spend the night)… to give mean looks and be applauded for them rather than promptly deposited in time out… I have, more oft than not, positively celebrated the antagonist.
It follows then, that my favorite characters to voice (so far) in Blueberry Springs are Mandy, our gal Beth’s perceived nemesis and Oz’s mother, Angelica.
Do voices just ‘come to you’ when you are preparing to narrate or is there research you find you need to do?
Both, sort of. Part of my process as a narrator is to “pre-read” the story. I’m not really reading for content in those first moments, but rather for clues to voice and character… I’m sort of researching within the story itself. I gather and horde, like some hobbitty thing, any and all textual hints from the author, scribbling each character in a note pad as well as their history, appearance, habits and traits. And then, when I have a chance, I pick the author’s noggin.
If a character has a lisp or chews gum… is bold or hesitant… has a back story that will sound in their voice or is, in Mary Alice’s case, the wonderful sage-like busybody everyone adores… these things are as integral to me in developing a character’s voice as the actual textual clues of timbre and tone and depth.
Accents, particularly those of places I have yet to travel to, often find me youtubing, or calling hotels and libraries in the area (if it isn’t a fictional location) and even, in some cases, enlisting the assistance of one of a few websites designed for dialects of the English language, or a dialect coach.
Briefly, what is the process of recording an audiobook? I know you do a read through of the book before you start. What sort of notes do you make for yourself to help along the process of recording the book?
Then I set up my gear (audiobooks require different recording settings than say… commercial audio… due to the varied tones, and volumes and voices required in an audiobook…)
I go put the tea kettle on for my “Throat Coat” tea (I sip it through the read to help with voice fatigue), grab a Granny Smith apple from the fridge (a small nibble helps with mouth smackiness and icky noisy sounds that my lips, teeth, and gums make… noises I was, prior to spending long hours talking into an extremely sensitive microphone, blissfully unaware I made but that I am now HYPER sensitive to… BLE-ARG) … put on my “quiet clothes” if I am not already wearing them (it is ASTOUNDING how LOUD some shirts are and jewelry… FORGET IT!) and hole up in my little padded room to talk to myself for a few hours. (*giggle*snort*)
How long does it take to create a 9 hour audiobook?
It typically takes me a ratio of 2:1 to record… give or take a bit… so for every 1 hour of audio, equates to 2 hours in the booth, accounting for stumbles and voice cracks, stomach grumblings, small children howling “MOOOOOM, I NEED…”(well… you name it… when I get in my booth, they need it), and any other myriad noises that interrupt recording.
After I record, there is a whole process of audio magic that happens, where the audio is reviewed, edited, mistakes are caught, I re-record the mistakes and then there is “mastering” and quality control… all of it, I would estimate, adds up to somewhere between 5-7 hours/1hour of finished audio.
So… if my math is correct (and it should be because I am using a calculator (giggle*snort*), that’s about 63 hours for a nine hour audiobook.
Do you keep a file of the ‘samples’ of the different book voices? How do you remember what everyone sounds like?
I do keep voice files, though I didn’t (even though it was recommended by any number of experienced narrators) always. One time of having to go back and listen to 18 HOURS of a story, with notepad in hand, in order to “remember” characters in a first book… for a sequel, cured me of THAT SILLINESS!
Now, for each book, I make short recordings of each character saying their name as well as speaking a few lines so if and when a sequel happens, I can refer to the files rather than listening to 18 hours before recording.
As for remembering voices while recording… generally when I’m recording, the story plays out in my head as it might on a screen (I just happen to be all of the characters)… snort… THAT sounds like ALL SORTS of work related psychosis, doesn’t it? (laughing)… Like my friends down the street, my sisters, or my children, the characters in the book I’m narrating typically talk all day in my head… like they do for an author I think. They, and the author, provide a running dialog that is sometimes so real to me that upon exiting the “dead quiet” isolation of my booth I am astounded to find that I am still in my little post-it note cottage in rural Pennsylvania and not in coastal France, or Canada, Texas, some as yet undiscovered planet or world or ANYWHERE, USA.
Did you have a man you were rooting for—Oz or Nash—in the story?
(ACK! I am SUCH a fickle fanny!)
For much of the book, I was Team OZ…
I am all about redemption… OH and HANDS!!!
You can tell a world… an absolute WORLD… about a fellow from his hands… and I loved the references to Oz’s.
But… Well… that Paris vacation with Nash… what gal DOESN’T like a little “je ne sais quoi”?
A little “sweep me away” romance?
Plus and also too, I really believe that when a door appears to close, it is only to allow another, more suitable, more DESIRABLE one to open. I really LIKED Nash but… well… he was never really SUITED for our gal Beth… not really.
That door, for him is closed… but… well… there is someone for him though… I feel certain. (and SQUEEEE if I get to narrate their STORY!!!!)
What did you like most about Beth?
If she was conflicted, she didn’t pretend otherwise… she invited us into her conflict and perhaps even LARGER… into her resolution process… and she made no excuses for either. It was refreshing and, I felt, inspiring.
In addition, Beth and I share a love of the happily ever after… the fairytale. And I absolutely appreciated that when Beth’s fairytale turned on its end… after consideration and a little fumbling about, she rewrote it to suit.
Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog… and to Blueberry Springs.
Take a listen to Cris Dukehart narrating Champagne and Lemon Drops!
Listen to the entire book:
Psst! Not an Audible member? You can get the first book free when you sign up for a free trial membership.
Not your speed but still want big savings? Snag the ebook on Amazon, THEN upgrade to audio for only a few dollars more! The two are Whispersynced–read and listen and your devices will remembered where you left off!
Loved it? Leave a review! Both Cris and I love getting online reviews on our work–it really helps us out. Thank you!
I am super excited to share the amazing cover for DARKEST DAWN, the first book in a new series by Author Katlyn Duncan. DARKEST DAWN releases next week on September 17th and is available to pre-order now!
In addition to the reveal of this gorgeous cover, the reveal includes an eBook giveaway for one of the author’s previously released titles. Be sure to head down to the Rafflecopter for a chance to win after you’ve checked out the cover!
The Cover Revealed!
Title: DARKEST DAWN
Author: Katlyn Duncan
Release date: September 17, 2015
One desperate journey for the truth
Returning to Willows Lake eleven years after her mother’s tragic death, Sloane Baker knows she will finally get the answers she needs! She always suspected that there was something more sinister at the heart of the accident that claimed her mother’s life, but a cryptic note could be the key to her past…
Two lives changed forever
The small town has always seemed safe to Brianna Taylor – until a mysterious new girl arrives who looks exactly like Bri! Now everything Bri knew has been thrown into question and Sloane’s arrival has changed the world of Willows Lake forever.
Strange things are happening in Willows Lake. But when they turn deadly, Bri and Sloane must find a way to save each other or risk losing everything they hold dear…
AMAZON | AMAZON UK | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES LATAM
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About Katlyn Duncan
Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.
Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.
WEBSITE | BLOG | TWITTER | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | GOOGLE+ | GOODREADS
The GiveawayThere is a blast-wide giveaway for...
- ONE (1) eBook copy of any one of the author’s backlist titles in Mobi or PDF format.
Enter in the Rafflecopter below...
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Also, if you are still following this blog (bless you) and haven't clicked over to what is now The Write Mage at Blogger, I was published at the beginning of this year by Cactus Heart Press! It was a great way to start my year, and I hope it's only the beginning.
I also have a new pen name, which, as it's the one I was born with, I plan on keeping, and that is Debra Renée. I no longer felt McKellan fit me, though I still love the series from which I borrowed it. My new non-pen also is who I am, and while I will always feel like Deborah is the name of an 80-year-old woman, I am happily embracing it.
Oh! And right now, I'm doing Pitmad, and I have two favorites on my MS I've been working on since before I joined AQC, and I must thank the people here, because I knew nothing of the ins and outs after you write "The End" for the first time until I came here.
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