Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Rachel's Room: A Tribute, A Thank You.

Five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA finals MVP, and a two-time MVP. He is easily one of the top five NBA players of all time. He was great at offense and spectacular at defense. He has been playing for 19 incredible years.  This description is for a kind, humble player. One who cut his salary in half to help his team pay better salaries. A team-player. Thank you, Tim Duncan.

                In the oldest part of the golden beach lived an elderly woman. She has been living at her beach house for many years. She had no family. Over time, her wooden rocking chair became her family. It was old and the paint was chipped, but it meant everything to her. At every sunset she’d sit there and think. The elderly lady stared out into the deep ocean as if something was waiting for her.
                                                “Adventure is out there.”

-          UP

Friday, July 8, 2016

Author Interview: JM Muller, Colors of Immortality

It has been my distinct pleasure getting to know author JM Muller (and a distinct pleasure reading her book), and I know you will enjoy getting to know her too.

Welcome to the blog, J.M. Your author page notes you are “just a new author trying to break into the literary world.” Humble words, yet you have in fact broken in. Your novel, Colors of Immortality has just been released—congratulations. What does this accomplishment mean to you?

First off, let me start by thanking you for taking the time to interview me. I’m honored and a bit flattered. This whole experience has been surreal, and I still can’t believe I’m here—having written a book! There are moments I have to pinch myself, it just doesn't seem real. To be honest, this accomplishment means everything to me. I’ve always had this dream of becoming a writer, and it took many years before I mustered up the courage to go after it. As I often tell my friends, this is a “bucket list” item, one that I’m immensely proud of. 

You’ve referred to it as your “lovely, twisted story”—what does that mean in this case, and what is the appeal of such tales for you?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been drawn to the darker side of stories. If I had to choose between a villain and a hero, I’d pick the bad guy every time. I suppose it’s because there’s an untold story hidden beneath their evil exterior, and it’s that story that fascinates me. With that in mind, I wanted to create characters that were beautifully flawed, and my book is filled with broken characters and dark deeds. It’s fantasy, bordering along horror, but there’s a lot of real life woven throughout.

What do you feel your greatest strengths are as an author, and what aspects of writing a book do you find most challenging?

Oh, this is a tough one. I’m tenacious, perhaps that’s my greatest writing strength. I’m open to learning and honing my craft. But even still, doubt—that pesky little bugger—has a way of sneaking in. I suppose that’s what I find most challenging—myself. Writing is a constant struggle, and I’m not sure that’ll ever go away. 

I think many aspiring authors relate to that “trying to break in” aspect—what can you tell us about your writerly journey, and what advice might you have for other writers endeavoring to break through themselves?

Reach out to the writing community. Fellow authors know the journey—they’ve all been there—and they’ll be your greatest source of strength and support. To this day, I’m amazed at how wonderful they’ve been. Open, kind, and incredibly generous, you’ll find newfound insta-friends. Also, remain true to who you are. It’s okay to break the mold, to fight conformity. Be yourself. If you love what you’re creating, others will too.

I like your cover—it seems to project images and a vibe that ties to your title and topic. What can you tell us about that process and how you settled upon it?

I’m very proud of my cover! I actually took the photo and made the cloak. I’ve been blessed with good-natured friends, and one of them, thankfully, was willing to model in a graveyard for me. She was an excellent sport about the whole thing. 

Now, as far as the colors, print and distressing, all the credit goes to Bookbaby. I uploaded my picture, specified I wanted something creepy, and they ran with it. They turned my book into a work of art, and I couldn't be more pleased. 

You have in very short order garnered an impressive following. What is the best way for readers and writers and the literary community to connect with you? Are you looking for reviews, arc or beta readers for works in progress? What might we expect from J.M. Muller in the future?

If you speak books, I’m your gal. Honestly, I try and respond to every person that makes an effort to connect me. It’s never easy putting yourself out there, and I want to be respectful to all those making an honest attempt. But, to be fair, I’ve fallen a bit behind and I’m working on catching up. 

As far as what I’m looking for? I’m desperate for reviews. As most indies know, reviews are the life preserver for new authors. It increases our visibility, and keeps our books afloat. Otherwise, they’d be lost rather quickly. I’d also be open to a few more beta readers for future works. A good beta is priceless in this industry. 

Thank you so much for letting us get to know you a bit! I think great things await on the next legs of your journey. Congrats and best wishes!

Thank you for having me. It was an honor. 

J.M. MULLER lives in Oregon with her husband, twin boys, and her darling fur babies. She has a plethora of skills (okay, that’s a lie), but does enjoy writing and creating—to the very best of her abilities. Her debut novel Colors of Immortality, may be found here, and you may find her on

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Rachel's Room: Unsuspecting Wonders

The many travelers, tourists, and natives of Alaska gathered around in the deep snow. All of the people were huddling around to gaze at the magnificent wonders of the Northern Lights. From a striking, cobalt blue to a gentle lilac.  It was amazing to see all of the colors dancing in the sky. They partnered with the stars that were a dazzling silver. No one wanted to miss a thing. Not that anyone could, however. Everyone had unbreakable stares, as if in a trance.  Viewing the Northern Lights can show the most close-minded and stubborn people, that even the simplest things can be the most spectacular.

                                                  photo courtesy of www.pexels.com 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ready, Set, RELAUNCH! The Awakening of David Rose

I am thrilled to announce the relaunch of The Awakening of David Rose!

The early reception for the book has been gratifying, including many inquiries regarding when the sequel will be out. (It’s underway, and I will keep folks apprised of progress).

Anyway, THANK YOU to those who have gotten the book—I very much hope you enjoy(ed) it. I am not a publisher and not awash in some grand marketing budget and so I embark upon this journey on the merits of the book and upon the powerful wings of word of mouth of people like you. A decade of my life and a lot of my heart went into this, and I hope those who read it enjoy it even a bit as much as I enjoyed writing (and rewriting) it. And if you feel inclined to help spread the word, I’d be greatly humbled and appreciative.

Most of all, if you’ve read it or do read it, please tell me what you think. What you like. What could be better. What you’d hope to see as the series progresses.

Thank you for your support, and for allowing me to be a part of your community.

The Awakening of David Rose is available now on KDP Select.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Rose by Any Other Name...BREAKING NEWS re My Novel~

As some of you may be aware, my publisher is closing its doors and The Awakening of David Rose will be unavailable on its current platforms after May 31. I remain grateful to Booktrope for having published me, but too much blood, sweat, tears and years went into this novel to let it die on the vine. So...please stay tuned here and on my author site for updates about my relaunch: The Awakening of David Rose will be available on KDP Select beginning on June 1.

Thanks for your continued support and in the meantime, here's a little snippet from Book II in the series...

“The immortals walk in worlds known to no others,” said Herman. “See things no one else sees. Including each other. Good or evil, immortals stand out to one another against the obscure backdrop of this limited world known by most. Stand out like beacons.” Herman leaned closer, as though in so doing he might impart to David the requisite message all the more clearly. “You are awakened,” he said. “Henceforth when you discover and use your powers; when you step further and further into this new universe, it gives off signals, like a flare at sea.”

“Others will see it?” David leaned forward too. “Others like me?”

“Others will see it. And others will come.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Author Interview: Amira Makansi

Amira K. Makansi is a winemaker-cum-writer, who spends her days sipping wine from barrels and crushing grapes during harvest, and her nights spinning new worlds into existence. After graduating from the University of Chicago in 2010 and narrowly dodging a career in law, she made it her mission to follow the wine path to the west coast of America to craft amazing wines. At the same time, she and her mother Kristy and sister Elena started writing a book together, which eventually became THE SOWING, the first book in the Seeds trilogy. Now, with the Seeds trilogy complete, she is looking forward to new projects. She divides her time between writing and winemaking, working the long hours of harvest in the fall and spending the rest of the year doing what she does best—bringing new stories to life.

Welcome, Amira. From the moment I met you, your passion for life, justice, and the literary world was evident. I remember thinking, I need to get to know her, and thinking not long after that, one day I need to interview her, so more folks can be introduced to that passion and that wisdom. So, here we are. When did it crystallize for you that you were going to be a writer, and was it a bolt of lighting epiphany, or more so a gradual actualization of your writerly DNA?

I think it was a very slow evolution. Like so many writers, I imagine, I was constantly writing when I was a kid. I wrote a thirty page Brian Jacques fanfiction about some ferocious bunnies living in the woods in green gel-pen (in cursive!) when I was nine. Two years later I graduated to Harry Potter fanfiction on a website called fanfiction.net. I had a fifty-page single-spaced, very character-driven story about Fawkes the phoenix. From the beginning, I was drawn to write. But during high school and college, a lot of that was squashed out of me. I didn’t have time to read books for pleasure, let alone write new ones. (Says something about the priorities of our educational system.) I forgot about writing entirely.

I still had the itch, though, and it came out in bursts of creative clarity. I got back into writing after graduation. I developed a story idea based on a dream I’d had years before, about a group of boys I knew growing up. That one may yet end up a novel one day. Then my mom got me hooked on this girl named Remy, and her romantic antagonist, who at the time we called Alex. Remy and Alex, too, were based on characters from a dream of hers. Elena and I wrote chapters alternating between Remy and Alex’s perspective, Kristy edited it, Alex eventually became Vale, and their story, tentatively titled Seeds, eventually became The Sowing. At some point along the road to publishing The Sowing in July of 2013, I realized that having written a book made me a writer, and I suppose that was the moment when I decided I liked that title and wanted to continue being a writer.

The story of how the Seeds Trilogy (and the terrific companion piece, The Prelude) came about is pretty cool—tell us about that, and what the series is about?

Sociologists and anthropologists will tell you that all stories can be boiled down to some remarkably small number of similar storylines. Seeds is, at its heart, a story of a girl and a boy growing up, confronting an evil world, and trying to change it for the better. The prologue to The Sowing sets the stage for the rest of the story—Remy Alexander’s older sister Tai is murdered in a classroom massacre. In the next chapter, we learn that this event drove the remaining Alexander family members to join the Resistance, a group of fighters working against the corrupt government at the heart of the Okarian Sector. Meanwhile, Valerian OrleĆ”n, who was just starting to fall in love with Remy when she fled, is searching for answers. The first book is about their inevitable collision, and the ripple effect of that collision.

The backdrop to all of this is a world in which the government has begun controlling people, changing their personalities, their identities, using chemically enriched food and genetically modified seeds. In the wake of devastating wars and climate change that changes agriculture as we know it today, food has become the world’s most precious resource. It’s meant to be a cautionary tale: this is what the world could look like, if we carry on too far down our current path.

What was it like writing, editing and publishing as a team, and are there future familial collaborations in store, or going your separate literary ways for now?

Writing as a team was incredible. We each brought different strengths to the table, and I think we were able to parlay those into a powerful combined voice. Whenever one of us was done writing a chapter, we had two built-in editors near at hand to tell us how great—or shitty—that first draft was. However, we are going our separate ways for now. K. Makansi was a great introduction into the world of publishing, and I don’t think we could have done it without support from each other. But we are all ready to tackle our own projects now.

I met you at a writer’s conference (and am forever grateful). What’s your take on those, and a little more broadly, what advice do you have for writers relative to building their platforms and engaging literary communities?

Budding writers and aspiring authors should take any and all opportunities they can afford to network, connect, bond, schmooze, and pal around with other writers. If you are a writer, other writers are your most important allies in the fight for publication, recognition, and book sales. If you are writing your first book, other writers will help you make that book better. If you are trying to publish a book, other writers will give you advice and tell you what to do and what not to do. If you are published and are trying to sell your book, other writers are the most powerful weapons in your arsenal for convincing readers to read your books. If you can afford to go to that writing conference in your hometown, do it. If you are a blogger, blog about writing, reading, and publishing, so that other writers will be engaged and share your posts. If you are an avid reader, read books by writers in your network, review them, and share those reviews with the world. You will make friends and allies everywhere, and these alliances will only help you all in the fight for literary success.

I think many, if not most fiction scribes—definitely myself among them—fantasize about seeing their work on the big screen. This dream may well become a reality for you. What can you tell us about that, and what else is next for you in your journey?

Thanks for asking! K. Makansi recently sold the option to adapt The Sowing into a screenplay for a film production to Big Picture Ranch in Ojai, California. Big Picture Ranch, composed of Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, specializes in films that raise awareness, inspire change, and solidify new cultural ideas. Their films have been shortlisted for Oscars, won awards at Sundance and Cannes, and been picked as New York Times Critics’ Picks. We were incredibly excited about working with Josh and Rebecca because of how passionate they were about the project, and because, unlike many Hollywood producers who sit on the rights to produce a book without ever moving forward, they are truly committed to bringing The Sowing to the big screen. They just contacted us today to say they’re moving forward on the screenplay!

One more question, and it’s a touch personal. Not only has it been my good fortune that you have become one of my most treasured friends, but it’s moved my heart witness the bond you and my young daughter Rachel have built through these last few years. You inspire her as a woman, author, and friend (and she likewise for you, you’ve shared).  Your journey—despite your remarkable early success—is like Rachel’s still nascent (which is amazing to think about): when long from now all’s said and done, what would you like your legacy to be?

I want to inspire the next generation of writers, just like Brian Jacques and J.K. Rowling did for me fifteen years ago. I want kids to write fanfiction of my books, based on my characters, until they are mature and developed enough to create their own worlds, their own stories, their own characters. I want people to read my stories and feel utterly compelled to create their own. It blew my mind when K. Makansi got our first piece of fan mail about The Sowing. But I’ll probably cry if a kid ever sends me a story written in gel pen he or she wrote based on my characters. The day someone tells me she was inspired to write because of me—that’ll be the day I sit back and rest on my laurels.