Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Carnelian Destiny Cover Reveal & Giveaway

I am SOOOOO excited to be able to reveal my beautiful new cover for The Carnelian Destiny, designed by the super fan-tabulous Najla Qamber of Najla Qamber Designs!!

And without further ado -- here it is!!

Isn't it beautiful?!? Although the book won't be released until August of 2016, I wanted to give you a sneak preview of what happens in the third installment of The Carnelian Legacy series. Here is a short blurb:

On the eve of the royal wedding, a mysterious missive arrives at the castle, threatening to cast a shadow over Darian and Marisa's joyful celebration. And as they prepare to embark on the honeymoon trip of a lifetime, dark forces of the Apollyon Order are mustering in the east; calling upon an ancient, evil beast with the power to destroy the stronghold of Crocetta. In danger of losing everything, Marisa and Darian must enlist the help of Crimson Knights from all over the Carnelian world to defend their kingdom. But this time, it might not be enough.

To celebrate the cover reveal AND the release of The Carnelian Legacy audiobook, I am giving away lots of great prizes!! Be sure to sign up in the Rafflecopter below and share with your friends for maximum chances to win!!

Buy The Carnelian Legacy on Amazon

The Carnelian Legacy audiobook is available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes! With the voice talents of Sarah Grace Wright, special sound effects and music by Larry Bryant, this is one dramatic reading you won't want to miss!! Perfect for listening to over the holidays!

Oh, I'd love to hear what you think of the new cover in the comments section below!! :0)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

8 Reasons Why We Love George Bailey

As the holiday season approaches and the networks begin airing the multitude of Christmas movie favorites, there is one movie that forever stands above all the rest for thousands--if not millions of viewers--It's A Wonderful Life.

This is a story that has been picked apart and analyzed by journalists, writers, bloggers, and just about everyone else, but I want to focus on the main character, George Bailey, because I believe he is the single-most identifiable protagonist the world has ever seen. And in breaking down the persona of George Bailey, we can better understand how we as writers can create and develop a sympathetic character who readers can readily identify with.

Of course much of this three-dimensional character's success can be attributed to Jimmy Stewart, the acting legend who brought him to life, but I am narrowing my list down to 8 things that make George Bailey the most lovable character:

1. His hunger for discovery

One of the saddest aspects of It's A Wonderful Life is the fact that George Bailey never does get out of Bedford Falls to see the world. From the time he is a young boy working at Mr. Gower's drugstore, he dreams of travelling the globe and experiencing the many cultures the world has to offer. He has a restless, adventurous spirit (something that many of us who have lived overseas can easily identify with.) In today's modern world where we can cross continents in just a few hours, back in the late 1940's when the movie was filmed, traveling to other countries was considered a big deal and not for the faint of heart.

2. He respects his parents

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is just after the family has eaten dinner on the night of his brother Harry's graduation. George is sitting at the table with his father and they are discussing him taking over the family business for a few years until his brother Harry can take over. His father gives him a healthy dose of wisdom and George answers with the following: "Pap, you want a shock? I think you're a great guy." He isn't afraid to show his love and admiration for his family.

3. He's willing to sacrifice time and time again

After his father dies and the family business is at risk of folding, the future of the entire town seems to hang in the balance. Understanding what losing his father's loan company will mean to the people of Bedford Falls, George gives up his dreams for his own future by standing up to the town bully, Mr. Potter, at a time when no one else seems to have the courage. In doing so, he saddles himself down with the life he never wanted in order to make a better one for others:

4. He has real friendships

I love the fact that his two good friends are both regular Joes and very blue collar -- a cop and a cab driver. Though neither Bert nor Ernie make stellar salaries, they don't seem bothered by this fact; nor are they ashamed by their role to serve others. In fact, helping others is a central theme running through the entire story and the old saying "a man is known by the company he keeps" certainly applies to our protagonist:

5. He follows his conscience

At a time in his life when everything seems to be going wrong financially, George is faced with the toughest decision of his life: does he accept Mr. Potter's generous offer and lower his standards for the position of his dreams or does he remain poor and stand by his convictions? Watch!

6. He has a sense of humor

One of the most endearing qualities of the character George Bailey is his innate gift of comedic timing. He doesn't take himself too seriously and enjoys the laughs and fun moments that are thrown his way. Not only that, but he also is the perpetrator of much of the humor in this film. His down-to-earth personality combines with tongue-in-cheek humor to give us an utterly lovable good guy:

7. He's not afraid to lead

On the day that George Bailey marries his sweetheart, Mary Hatch, there is a dreaded bank run in Bedford Falls and panic sets in. Instead of throwing in the towel and taking off on his honeymoon, he uses his smarts and the limited resources he has (his honeymoon funds) in order to prop up his loan business to keep things running. It takes guts and true leadership to come up with viable solutions at a time when everyone else is panicking:

8. He brings people together

If you haven't seen the movie yet, I would highly recommend it. But I have to warn you about the final scene. Probably the most poignant and best ending ever to any film (not to mention the tear-jerker factor) this story captures the joy of human relationships. What do I mean by that? Well, let's just say that George Bailey was given a wonderful gift on Christmas Eve--to see how much he'd touched the lives of those around him in such a positive way!

What is your favorite scene? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What Exactly Makes a "Strong" Female Character?

I have noticed over the past few years that the current YA fiction establishment has been dictating to writers and authors that, in order to sell books in today's teen market, they need to create "strong, independent female characters." To be honest with you, I personally am fed up with self-proclaimed book critics blasting YA books left and right simply because they supposedly don't have the quintessential kick-butt young woman in the driver's seat of their novel.

Now, before you get yourself in a tizzy and start tossing girl-power rants at me, please hear me out.

Although it would be impossible to know with any certainty exactly where this push to generate Wonder Woman protagonists originated, it would be my guess that it probably arose from somewhere deep within the feminist publishing movement. I must first state off the bat that I am totally pro-women's equality in nearly everything, but I am by no means a die-hard feminist. Women are strange, mysterious and beautifully complex characters, but we are also unique in our own diversity. One size does not fit all. While some people complain that women are still regarded as inferior members of society (and in some countries we most certainly are) I am constantly being amazed at the power and influence that women enjoy in today's society, just not in the ways you would probably imagine.

While I enjoy reading YA and NA stories about strong female characters who can kick-butt just as well or even better than their male counterparts, I am also a realist who gets the fact that not every woman contains an assassin streak within her. In fact, I would assert that your average young woman reading these books has not yet acquired the mandatory skills and traits that today's YA climate declares a woman must have in order to be a "strong, independent young woman."

And that's totally okay.

Why? Because, unlike today's mouthpieces of the feminist movement that are constantly shouting at us on what makes a "real" woman, the true strength of the female is not defined by her ability to command and lead those around her. I would openly challenge that notion by declaring that a woman's strength and power lies in her ability to influence. This is a swift departure from the I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR mentality, lending more credibility to the saying ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. (Sorry for shouting!)

Don't know what I'm talking about? Think of a woman of influence in your own life--the one you respect above all others--the one you would do almost anything to please. She could be your mother, your grand-mother, your aunt, your cousin, boss, etc. No matter who she is, I am willing to bet you a bag of candy corn that she is not an assassin or Shadowhunter. I am also guessing that you don't consider her strong because of her take-no-prisoners attitude, but rather, her sphere of influence over you and others. Your sense of respect for this woman probably took months or years to forge; it didn't magically appear overnight after she was exposed to a barrel of toxic sludge. And her strength was probably acquired through trial by fire. Real fire.

But what does all this have to do with YA fiction?

I'm glad you asked. Young adult fiction is about teenagers going through some kind of trial, be it first love, coming-of-age, or any number of topics that have challenged youth since the dawn of time. It is, by it's very nature, fiction about inexperienced young adults who are (generally) still trying to figure life out. For those of us who are well advanced in years, we realize that we STILL don't have it all figured out yet but are much more stable (and much wiser!) than we were in our teenage years. I would argue that women (and men) are not born strong--it is something that is acquired along the way. I see a baby being pretty much a blank slate, and although he/she is made up of genes and characteristics that will make him/her prone to developing various strengths and weaknesses, I believe it is primarily the experiences along life's path that develop a person into a "strong" personality.
So - why should we expect YA characters to have everything figured out by the time they hit the magic age of 18? Why is it that snarky girls who mouth off to their parents and other figures of authority in YA books are considered "strong, independent young women" while those young women who are quietly trying to work through their issues of insecurity and unrequited love are considered "weak" characters? The character who overcomes suicidal tendencies and matures into a woman of integrity is, in my opinion, far more interesting, admirable and rewarding to read about than some orphaned superhuman girl who goes through life knocking out one perfectly-timed zinger after the other.

But fiction isn't about reality -- it's a means of escapism!

True. But there is only so much suspension of disbelief that the reader can take, and it must be handled with respect in order for a book to be considered within the realm of reason. One of the biggest criticisms that has been leveled against the character Bella in the Twilight books is the fact that many consider her a "weak" character because she allows a MAN (God forbid!) to rule her life. Critics of the books contend that she isn't a "strong, independent young woman." But isn't that purely subjective? After all, Bella did manage to snag the hot young vampire that all the other girls in Forks wanted and had been chasing for years. Edward fell for her like a ton of bricks, and she fell in love with him, and the two of them married and lived happily ever after. Bella Swan got her happily ever after through perseverance and by using her sphere of influence. How is that not a strength?
In my own series, The Carnelian Legacy, we follow the story through the eyes of the insecure protagonist, Marisa MacCallum. When we first meet her, she is searching for her own identity at a time when her life has gone into a tailspin after the death of her father. She behaves and reacts as a typical seventeen-year-old who is just trying to find her own way while trying to deal with her own mourning. Some readers who are quick to judge her as being immature and a brat will never enjoy the satisfaction of watching her mature and grow as a character (watch out for the spoiler here!) in the way she eventually becomes the wisest and fairest queen the Carnelian world has ever known. It isn't about instant gratification -- poof! -- and in 36 pages, she's a strong character.

But in all honesty, would you rather read another story about a girl who starts out as a picture-perfect Mary Jane, or would you rather be captivated by the story of a broken young woman's journey to conquer her own self-doubt? It doesn't matter how you answer because it's all subjective anyway. You may like the kick-butt assassin or the self-loathing teen, either one is fine. But don't try to tell others that one story is more important than the other; that one is strong and the other is weak.
Because what you might consider a strength is what others might consider a weakness.
How would you define a "strong female character?" I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Monday, May 4, 2015

FREE eBook Download of The Carnelian Legacy!

In celebration of the fact that The Carnelian Legacy will be displayed in the New Title Showcase at Book Expo America (BEA) at the end of the month, I am offering a FREE ebook download for a limited time from now until May 18th! The book's sequel, The Carnelian Tyranny is also being offered here at the bargain price of only $3.99!!

Don't miss your chance to grab a download of my YA debut novel and be sure to spread the word! And for those of you who are not familiar with The Carnelian Legacy, here's the blurb from the back of the book:

Marisa MacCallum always believed the man of her dreams was out there somewhere. The problem is, he's in another dimension.

After the death of her father, eighteen-year-old Marisa's life is on the verge of imploding. She seeks comfort on her daily ride through the woods of Gold Hill, but when a mysterious lightning storm strikes, she is hurled into the alternate dimension of Carnelia where she is discovered by the arrogant but attractive nobleman, Darian Fiore.

Stranded in a world teeming with monsters, maniacs and medieval knights, Marisa is forced to join Darian on a dangerous mission to negotiate peace with his cousin and archenemy, Savino da Rocha. Along the way she starts to see his softer side and finds herself falling in love. But once she learns that Darian is locked into an arranged marriage, her heart shatters. And when Savino falls for her charms and demands her hand in exchange for peace, Marisa is faced with an impossible choice: marry the enemy of the man she loves or betray them both and become the catalyst for a bloody war.

Hurry today and download a free copy in either .mobi or .epub format. Please "Share" the love by tweeting, liking, pinning and posting this spectacular offer to all of your friends!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Win FREE Books in The New Adult Giveaway!

Several New Adult authors have teamed up together to offer free copies of their books in the New Adult Giveaway from March 22 - 29, 2015. Enter the Rafflecopter below for chances to win!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Carnelian Madness Giveaway!

To celebrate the launch of the updated, extended edition of The Carnelian Legacy, we are giving away some great prizes!

Enter the Rafflecopter widget below and make sure you like, post, tweet and share this giveaway on every social media platform for extra chances to win our Carnelian SuperFan prize!


One SIGNED Hardcover Copy of The Carnelian Legacy - Extended Edition


One Softcover Copy of The Carnelian Legacy - Extended Edition



One eBook download for Amazon Kindle of The Carnelian Legacy - Extended Edition

a Rafflecopter giveaway