Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Hold

Yesterday I received the news that my grandmother has passed. Though I knew it was coming - she'd been fighting for a long time - I'm still at a bit of a loss. She went peacefully, the pain and agitation she'd been suffering for weeks finally subdued, and all her wishes were met. I'm glad she's no longer in pain, no longer has to fight, has passed on to a better place. But it still hurts those of us left behind.

While we settle the arrangements and prepare to celebrate her life, some things must be put on hold. The re-releases of Promise and Purpose should still proceed as planned, but the giveaway I promised earlier this week will have to wait. I'm sure you can understand.

I'd love to share some things about my grandma with you, but right now my brain seems to be on hold, too. I just can't put the thoughts and words together to do her justice at the moment. All I can say, for now, is what I posted on Facebook yesterday:
Today the world lost an amazing woman who taught me that with dedication, perseverance and hard work, even the highest odds can be beaten. She was a fighter until the end. Now may you rest in peace, Grandma. ♥
And a few quotes she could have said herself:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press On", has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race." - Calvin Coolidge

"Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure." - George Elliot

"Perseverance, secret of all triumphs" - Victor Hugo
"The best strategy in life is diligence." - Unknown Author  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - Big News & Giveaways

I totally missed posting yesterday. Not that you can set your clock or calendar by my posts but I've been trying hard to be more regular. I've been under the proverbial gun, though. Although we've been working hard on the planned upcoming releases - Genesis (Oct. 2011) and Devotion (Feb. 2012) - my publisher and I decided that just wasn't enough work for us or enough fun for you. So...

BIG News!

Promise and Purpose aren't just getting an outward makeover. Their insides are also getting reworked, too! At first, this meant adding quotes from reviewers to both books, teasers for following books and a few minor tweaks to the content. But since I'm already in there messing with the interior file, we thought, "Why not go all out?" What does that mean?

New content, lovelies! New. Content.

I'm going to tell you a secret. But first, a little explanation. With beta readers, critique partners, freelance editors and agent feedback PLUS all the books I read by "experts," Promise and Purpose went through numerous rounds of revisions, before and after the split (they were originally written as one book). And I mean NUMEROUS (I'm too embarrassed to say how many and I truly lost count after about, ahem, 20 rounds or so). Somewhere along the way, the "real" story got a little mixed up. The chain of events in Promise were changed - both their order and what actually happened. Parts of both books landed on the cutting room floor when they probably shouldn't have.

These changes were made in the interest of the story, to make it the best it could be. But here's my secret: I've always regretted some of those changes. I followed advice I probably shouldn't have and didn't follow advice I probably should have. And I didn't put enough faith in my own intuition.

I love both books, don't get me wrong. But I've always had the nagging feeling that they could have been better if I had left some things alone. Now I've been given the opportunity by my fabulous publishing team to make them right. To make them the way I intended. To tell the beginning of Promise as it really happened, the way Alexis had told it to me. To bring back parts that were originally deleted because they didn't seem important but they actually provide needed insight into the characters and their behavior.

Promise has more extensive changes than Purpose, with the sequence of events returned to the way they really happened and deleted parts - including an entire scene - put back in. The changes in Purpose clarify Alexis and Dorian's life until now and why Alexis behaves the way she does in the first third of the book. The real cause is not what readers seem to think it is. PLUS Purpose will now include an excerpt from Devotion at the back. (To get a sneak peek of your own, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter. Subscribers will get the Devotion excerpt first!)

Although this has added a lot of work to my already overflowing plate, I feel a sense of relief. And excitement. Because I can't wait for readers to read these stories as I'd originally intended.

We have all kinds of things planned to celebrate the re-releases of both books by the end of the month, including giveaways! But first, I've been dying to do a big giveaway to celebrate some significant milestones: reaching over 500 fans on my Facebook page (it's over 600 now), over 1,000 followers on Twitter and 350 blog followers. As you can see, I'm still short on the blog followers. But I'm out of patience.

So here's the deal: we're going to do the big giveaway anyway! Soul Savers Series swag and signed books plus other goodies up for grabs! So watch for the details later this week. And stay tuned for more about how we're celebrating the re-releases of Promise and Purpose.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reviews and Being Two-Faced

Years ago, before I decided to plunge back into fiction writing, I was just a reader. I read when I had time and usually books that came highly recommended from friends. There were no book blogs or Goodreads back then.

Unless friends had pestered me to read a particular book, I made my choices on back-cover copy, after the cover attracted me, of course. I never read reviews. Then, reviewers were paid critics in the media and just as I don't trust critics' reviews of movies, I don't trust them for books. These things are too subjective to take some stranger's word that I should or shouldn't read or watch something.

Things have changed now, of course. With blogging came reviews by people who are just readers. People like me, not some talking-head in the big-name newspaper. People's whose reviews I'd take much more seriously. However, by the time book blogging took off, I was shoulder deep in writing, which has changed my perspective on reviews anyway. Sort of.

This is what I've been thinking about this weekend - how the reader in me perceives reviews differently than the writer. How two-faced I am about these.

The reader in me still doesn't want to read a bunch of long reviews that give everything away. As a reader, I prefer to scan the Goodreads ratings more than read each and every review. When I do find myself reading reviews for something I haven't read yet, I kick myself. I don't want to go into the book with too much knowledge or too many expectations. The longer and more detailed the reviews are, the more I stay away from them.

HOWEVER, after I've read the book, I like to go back and read the reviews and the more I enjoyed the book, the more reviews I read. Because I want to know what others thought about it, in details. Did we share the same reaction to a particular scene or line? Did others get something out of it differently than me? Is anyone else swooning as much as I am with that hawt hero? Add in comments and it's like discussing the book with friends. I love that! So it's only after I've read the book that I really get anything out of book blogs and reviews.

On the other hand, the writer in me loves to read book blogs and reviews because I learn so much. Whether it's a review of my book or someone else's, the longer and more detailed the review, the better. I love those that are like the book reports we had to do in school - what happened, summary of the characters, what the reader liked most, what the reader liked least, overall reaction, thoughts on certain scenes and then a recommendation. These give me insight into what readers like, what they're looking for, what turns them off, how everyone takes something different away from the same book, etc.

My two-facedness creates a dilemma. I find myself sucked into a really well-written review about something I haven't read yet, but want to read. It's inevitable. There are so many good book bloggers and reviewers out there - and they read so much faster than me - that nearly every day I'm bound to find a review I can learn so much from, even when I know that it could change the reading experience for me.

Ah, such is life. I'd rather have this dilemma than go back to only talking-head, paid critics telling me what to read. you read reviews before reading a book? Do they influence your reading choices? Are you like me and read reviews after reading? What kind of reviews do you like - the quick ones or those that provide details, even if they're a little spoilery? With your answers, let me know if you're a writer or "just" a reader and if that affects your perspective.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you've heard - or seen may be a better word - the exciting news. After a long pow-wow with my publisher this weekend, we've made a major decision that leads to more exciting news. But that's all I can say right now. So there's your tease!

Had to do something, because the rest of this post isn't really a tease. You get it all today! Here's the newsletter article:

New Cover Love
Lots of people have told me how they love the flowers on the covers of Promise and Purpose. They're very lovely and stunning, I can agree. The covers get placed on best cover lists, but always somewhere in the middle. They're pretty, but they're not great.

People also don't get the symbolism and wonder what the covers mean. They say, "Pretty, but why?" Yes, the flowers do represent something - someone - Alexis. The leaves represent characters, too. There really was reason to it all, but it's just not obvious enough. I also think a lot of people mistake the books for YA (Young Adult) because of these covers.

Add to that the fact that there wasn't a similar look to use for Devotion or the rest of the series. The idea we had when we selected these flowers doesn't really apply to the story anymore.

And, finally, in this long-winded explanation of what I'm about to show you...I did the original covers. I have just enough graphic design experience to be dangerous, but not enough to do OMG WOW! I wanted a pro, but all kinds of things happened at once that led me to design these.

So now I'm delighted to share that I've been working on new covers with the multi-talented Brenda Pandos, who can do OMG WOW! And not just for Genesis and Devotion. But she also re-did Promise and Purpose!

Aren't they gorgeous??? You are the first to see them! They'll go live by the end of the month. If you have the paperback(s) with the flower covers, you'll be one of fewer than 1,000 people who ever will own those. Does that mean anything? Maybe not right now, but who knows for the future, right? As for ebooks, there are thousands of those out there, but I don't know if they'll be updated with the new files or not. Not sure how that works.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Butterbeer Martinis

Saturday night I was Potions Master at a Hogwarts Feast and Harry Potter Geek-Out Party. Six of us girls sat down to a mouth-watering feast prepared by Chrissi (publisher/biz partner/friend) and her house-elves, including roasted chicken, spare ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy, English peas, glazed carrots and Yorkshire pudding, plus treacle pudding for dessert. We were stuffed!

As Potions Master, my job was to mix drinks and the drink of the night was...BUTTERBEER MARTINIS! OMG, so freakin' good! Chrissi and I made up the recipe last week and did some testing to come up with the right mix. A lot of people have asked about them, so here you go:


1 part whipped cream vodka
1 1/2 parts butterscotch schnapps
Butterscotch ice cream topping
Cream Soda

Pour all of the above except the soda over ice in a martini shaker. Shake. Drizzle more butterscotch topping in glass. Pour mixture to about 1/3 to 1/2 of glass (depending on personal taste/tolerance for alcohol). Fill the rest with cream soda.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Guest Vlog! Eisley Jacobs & BORN TO BE A DRAGON

I am so freakin' excited for Eisley Jacobs and her soon-to-be-released BORN TO BE A DRAGON. I'm also excited to be the second stop on her blog tour and scavenger hunt. AND, I don't just get an everyday guest post, but a VLOG, you guys. A VLOG!!!

Before I bring on Her Awesomeness, be aware that you need to pay attention to the vlog. Why? Because there's a Nook up for grabs! The vlog is part of her scavenger hunt. She has a question over on her site and the answer is "hidden" in this video. Answer it and be entered to win a copy of BORN TO BE A DRAGON and also entered to win a Nook! A NOOK!!!

You may have to watch it twice. It's laugh-out-loud funny so you might miss the crucial bit you need for the scavenger hunt because you're spewing coffee all over your screen. You've been warned.

Without further ado, one of the most amazing people I know in this writers world...Her Awersomeness, Eisley Jacobs.

OMG. I not only laughed, but now I'm crying because of all the nice things she said about me. Told you she's amazing. Now go check out her book and see how spectacular it is, too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Inspiration & Other Stuff

Just a quick shout out to Jessica Bell who unknowingly has renewed my inspiration for GENESIS. She was tagged and shared a beautiful picture of Greece - not what you normally think of, either. And this is how I've imagined Ancient Greece for the novella. Jessica generously shared her photo with me so I could make it my own wallpaper. So now I've been staring at my desktop and it's making me excited to get back to work on revisions. I'd share it here, but it's hers...and you should check out her blog anyway because she rocks! THANK YOU, Jessica! I so needed this!

While I have you...the newsletter is taking a little longer than expected to put together. I've hinted at some things in my writing world going through a makeover and it's one of those things. It should go out tonight or tomorrow.

Finally, if you're a writer, don't forget to check out my writer's blog - A-Mused Writer.

Hope you're having a happy hump day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Eeekkk! The very lovely Eisley Jacobs has a book releasing this month! July 20th, to be exact. I'm so incredibly excited for her and Born to be a Dragon, a middle-grade fantasy novel about...well, dragons. How cool is that?!?

Eisley will be visiting Thursday as part of her blog tour and scavenger hunt (with lots of awesome prizes!), so be sure to come back then. For now, enjoy this little tease from Born to be a Dragon.

“Let me see your mark, Deglan,” Lord Edric said, now dangerously close.
I turned and looked down into the black void below. I couldn’t see the waves, which meant they couldn’t either.
“Just tell them… please.”
The last bit came out in a croak, and I threw myself over the edge. The wind rushed between my horns as I plummeted toward the ocean. I fought the urge to open my wings, knowing they watched from the top.
I searched for the ocean below, my heart still throbbing in uncontrollable beats.
The fear concentrated in my veins, icy and intense, pulling me toward the unknown. The white, angry, foaming waves appeared, and in the same instant, I thrust my wings out and prayed for instinct to kick in.
The wind caught the membranes between my bones, and my stomach fell into my feet. The weightlessness hit me as I soared over the roaring tide. I tucked my arms and legs under my body, as I had seen others do. I whipped my tail, catching it on the streams of air that pushed in every direction.
It worked! I was flying. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

Happy Birthday, U.S.A.!

This is the day to celebrate our independence - our freedom and liberty granted to us 235 years ago and protected for us ever since by our troops. Don't forget to thank a soldier or a vet for the freedom we can still celebrate.

In the spirit of independence and as an indie author, I wanted to share something about independence in the book industry. It's the opening message, "Miss Independence" by Bethanne Patrick, written for Shelf Awareness for Readers. I love how she said it. Go read it.

But first...I wish you and yours a very happy and safe 4th of July!

Friday, July 1, 2011

In the Wild

More pictures of Promise and Purpose "in the wild" with fans. Remember, send me yours at kristie (at) kristiecook (dot) com and I'll send you signed bookmarks. (By doing so, you give me permission to post your picture on my blog and/or Facebook).

Boriana of California with Promise

Boriana with Purpose

Terri's son of Oklahoma with Purpose - isn't that the greatest grin???
Thank you, everyone, for continuing to send in your pictures. I have more to post soon, but please do keep sending. I love to see my books "in the wild"!!!