Review: Uriel’s Fall (#Audible #Audiobook)

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I came across the audiobook for Uriel’s Fall while looking for a narrator for my own work, and I must say the short two-minute sample I heard was enough to drive me over to Audible, register for an account, and download it.

Uriel’s Fall doesn’t waste time with the old good vs. evil rhetoric when it comes to demons and angels, and I couldn’t be happier for that. Hall brings a fresh look into the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants of Heaven and Hell, and Ubiquity is very much a day-to-day job. I love how she manages to meld the supernatural with the mundane seamlessly. This could very well be happening in the real corporate world and we would never know.

Ronnie is a fun character. Her snark helps to save her sometimes whiny and naive disposition. I mean, when you are a demon who can’t remember anything past three months ago, and had to have Lucifer pull strings to get you a job that feels daunting, I guess you have some things to whine about. And things don’t seem to be getting any better when an aggressive, bully-centric, and blood-thirsty voice suddenly starts talking to you, mocking your private thoughts. Especially when the voice appears to want a bloody vengeance against the three most powerful angels of all time.

Hall manages to keep the story flowing, effortlessly dialoguing Ronnie and the voice as she sets out to juggle a confusing love triangle between her, Gabriel, and Michael, figure out why Lucifer has suddenly become distant and unhelpful with getting her memories back, fighting with a d*** boss, and discovering what, or who, killed Metatron centuries ago and why she is connected to her death.

This book has quickly become one of my favorites and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into more. DEFINITELY worth a read, or listen!

Amazon: Buy Here   Audible: Buy Here

 

 

The Dreaded “DNF”: When A Reader Rejects You

Okay, so… being an author is funny. Not funny in the, “Oh, haha, this is a barrel of shits and giggles,”—though, I struggle to find the joy in a barrel of shit—but funny in the more accurate, “I pour my heart and soul into every word of this piece of paper and then ask people I will never meet to shred it to literary pieces because I seek validation by my peers and already know I’m a hack but I will keep writing and do it all over again because I am also a masochist,” way.

Yeah, you know what I mean, fellow fledgling author. I see you, there. And if you don’t know what I mean, well, just wait. Come back when you get your first taste and we will commiserate together.

“Why keep writing when apparently I really suck at it? What’s the point?!”

For those not interested in writing that might be reading this, I am sure you are sitting there in your bubble of self-confidence wondering why on Earth any human would do something so self-flagellating. Well let me just throw a few quick reasons out there:

  1. It helps us hone our craft. Sometimes getting ripped apart is the best thing to happen to a book. It makes the author question things and go in to fix them. Fixing  usually = better content for you.
  2. We finally feel right! I’ve said before, there are two types of writers: One who thinks everything they touch is literary gold (regardless of the truth), and one who just knows it’s not good enough no matter how much they work on it and everyone who says it’s great is just placating you because they feel sorry for you or want to spare your feelings. (No, I couldn’t possibly be in group number 2.) You’ll be hard pressed to find an author who falls within the very narrow margin between the two.
  3. It keeps us honest. This almost goes with number 1, but by putting your work out there for critics, you are keeping yourself from developing an ultra-ego, helping prospective readers make a better decision as to whether they want to buy your book. In my opinion, transparency is invaluable when it comes to reviews. Not everyone is going to like your book (we’ll get to that in a moment) and when all people see are glowing reviews, it looks suspicious. I know if I don’t find at least ONE person nit-picking something, no matter how small, then the reviews start to feel disingenuous.

Also, to further explain how our brains work, we can save a lot of time by telling you to just NOT try to understand it. A creative’s brain is a twisty-turny labyrinth of nonsense at the best of times. Many people in my life have personally adopted the “smile and wave” strategy when dealing with me and I think it suits all of us just fine.

But that isn’t the main focus of this blog. As usual, I have derailed from my train of thought and wandered into a field of poppies.

No, I want to spotlight one of the most soul-crushing types of reviews:

The dreaded “DNF”.

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For those who are not in-the-know—oh, how I envy your innocence—when you see “DNF” on a book review it means the reader Did Not Finish.

 

Let me say that again.

A reader, who is the bread-and-butter of your chosen path, who is of a type of personality that usually hungers for more and more books to read, DID. NOT. FINISH. READING. IT.

Nothing could be worse, right? Now you are back to an unformed lump of self-deprecation and hopelessness. All of your dreams and aspirations have been proven to be out of your reach and now you need to go ahead and finish those Insurance classes so you can return to the “real world’ and live out your life as just another wire in the machine of dull, menial, adulting. Right?

Okay, so, it might feel that way, but let’s take a deep breath and put down clipboard and 401k. (Okay, don’t really give up the 401k. You totally need that.)

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DNFs happen. They happen all. The. Time. The fact of the matter is, you are not going to please everyone. There might be a million people who love you voice, your style of writing, or your genre, but there is always going to be a million more who are just not into it. Usually, thank God, many of those won’t find their way to you because they will know beforehand that your story isn’t for them. Then there are the few who actually do make it to your book, find it’s not to their taste, and put it away never to look at it again. Even then, it’s not the end of the world. The ones that hurt are the ones who actually review the book, stating that they couldn’t finish.

Yes. Ouch. That smarts.

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But, guess what. You’ll still be okay. How do I know this? Because today I got my first DNF review. My initial reaction?

 

 

Yeah… I’m not proud. I almost cried. Was ready to just give up and forget it all. Why keep writing when apparently I really suck at it? What’s the point?! Because that’s what you do! Once I settled my overdramatic ass down, I made myself really read the review again. Really take it in and mull the words over, savor them, and allowed myself to step outside of my mental hangups to really figure out what this meant. Do you know what I found?

That it doesn’t really matter.

Sure, hearing that someone just couldn’t even get through my (free!) book hurts me right in the feels, but that’s just one person. One person who, might I add, was actually completely sincere and sweet about how they felt. She didn’t slam my book, blame my writing skills, or in any other way diminish my hard work.

It just was not to her taste. Simple.

You might looooove grilled cheese sandwiches, but if you find you don’t like fig and goat-cheese (or, maybe more accurately, a sandwich filled with government processed cheese product) does that mean the chef isn’t even suited for a school cafeteria? No. You just have a taste for some things, and it didn’t quite hit that mmmm factor. That is basically what this reader did. She was even kind enough to ask that other readers not take her personal tastes as gospel when considering my book. That’s completely fair of her, and who am I to have a tantrum over that?

So, even if you find your book on someone’s DNF reading list, don’t despair. It’s not as bad as it seems at first. Don’t listen to the voice that tells you that one (ONE!) person not being into it means no one else liked it. That voice is lying, and a dick. Breathe. Eat the ice cream. Have the tantrum. Now pick yourself back up and keep at it.

 

 

DENY THE MOON is Officially Live on #Smashwords and #Amazon

 

I feel like it has taken ages to get here, which is absurd when  you think about it. I’ve launched Deny the Moon before, right? So there really isn’t much to be said this time around.

Wrong!

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Well, okay. So my book is no stranger to the Smashwords or Kindle shelves. I know to many people, this relaunch hardly seems like a big deal and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be a big deal to everyone else.

Personally, I think it’s phenomenal. I feel like I have finally accomplished something.

“But Melissa,” you say. “How do you feel accomplished now, but didn’t before?”

“Because,” I tell you while demonstrating a perfect Captain Morgan pose, “I have finally finished!” I am done. Finally. Completely. Done.

I no longer feel compelled to go in and tweak this scene, or fill in this part. I don’t feel as though there are things still left unsaid. I am content. To be honest, I never thought I would get that way about a book, but there it is. I can look at Deny the Moon and feel nothing. No wiggle of anxiety. No panic. There is nothing left to say.

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So relaxed.

Does this mean Deny the Moon is perfect? Hell no. This is my first book guys, my debut novel. I’m still getting my feet wet in this whole writing thing, and I am sure from a technical standpoint there can still be fixes to be had, but the truth of the matter is I am done having them. I have put the book through all the paces I had access to, have revised and rewrote hours of content, had a multitude of eyes peruse it’s pages in search of problematic paragraphs, and there is no more I can do. It’s my baby, and she’s ready to meet the world.

So, as of today, you can snag yourself a copy in two ways:

  • Via Smashwords for Free!
  • Or, if you don’t mind throwing a nickel into my hat, you can also get the Kindle version for $0.99.

There’s really not much else to it.

Thank you, to everyone who has listened to my ups and downs while getting through this. It means the world to me. And the best part about being done? I have finally unclogged the blockade that was keeping me from writing book two. Since the relaunch, I have written an entire page of content for Raging Spirit, something I was beginning to worry would never happen. I will totally take that as a sign to move forward.

Hopefully, you will enjoy what I’ve offered to you. Whether you are new to the series, or just want to brush up on the new content, I recommend giving it a read. And as always, feel free to leave an honest review. I’ll keep plugging away at the sequel, and another surprise I have up my sleeve for you.

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How to Throw a *Proper* Virtual Launch Party

Launch parties. They sound fun, don’t they? I mean it’s all in the name. A party is a gathering of people coming together for some special occasion (my favorite occasion is having booze in the house) and letting the good times roll, and who doesn’t love to let their hair down once in a while? What a fantastic way to promote your new book!

With Deny the Moon getting ready for it’s own re-launch, I thought I might blog a little about my whole Launch Party process. You know, to sort of give the inexperienced a little peek into the whole thing.

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Look up every resource in the entirety of the human earth (not to be confused with the non-human earth) on the subject of Facebook Book Launches. Follow every suggestion to the letter, including those that contradict each other, until you have consumed so much information that your head feels full and woozy and you suspect it no longer has to do with the fifth of Evan Williams you started in on during blog #67.

Take all of the advice you read about and throw it all in the trash. You are going to wing this!

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Tell a couple of close confidants about your plans. Support is key to getting through this with some sanity. Make sure you repeat your worries, fears, and concerns over and over until they understand that you are totally not asking them for their help. Hold the tears inside when they don’t pick up on the hints. Swallow your feelings along with the month-old, half eaten pint of Ben and Jerry’s you forgot was in your freezer.

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Stalk other launch parties to see how well they did. Not to take their ideas, because we already decided they were rubbish and we are winging it! But we just want proof that this sort of thing actually works. Of course, there really is no proof because we can’t see their sales reports, but boy they look like a fun bunch!

Book launches can be broken down into five basic elements: Games, discussions, giveaways, music, and of course, promoting your book. I mean, the whole point of these things are to tell people about the fruits of the last seven years of your labor, but you don’t want to make the rookie mistake of making the day all about your book. No, why would we want to do that? That’s “rude.” You want to try to convince people to go to Amazon and buy a $3.00 eBook in the most upfront and honest way possible!? Pffft. Amateur. We all know what everyone in your prospective audience really wants is to jump through a ton of hoops and force a smile as you discuss character inspirations and mood music (not to mention all those rejections from “gate-keeping” traditional publishers.) Why, I’m sure most of them love to sit through time-share presentations before getting their free vacation, as well!

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Also, make sure you have been planning this thing for at least 6 months before you realized this was even a thing. These things take time, after all, which you don’t have! Now you have all of four weeks (if you are lucky) to do half a year’s preparation. Good times!

You  want to show these strangers that you really have your shit together, because when someone thinks “author” they think the picture of mental health and organizational godliness. So, set yourself up for success by finding a block of time that both gives you the freedom to mingle in real time with your party guests and manages to find that sweet spot of peak traffic time across the many time zones of the world!

One way to achieve this perfect union of scheduling is to just make the party last a full day, that way you don’t become that monster author that excluded anyone. There are no clique-queens here! Save the feelings of betrayal for when you kill off the one character your readers love.

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If you just can’t shove the rest of your responsibilities to that back burner where you’ve managed to dump all of your other works-in-progress while you focus on this one little launch party—don’t worry, I am sure you will remember those little sparks of ideas you had while scrolling through Published to Death for advice on throwing a virtual launch party (spoiler: there isn’t any)—then you can always create a script for you to copy and paste from. Candid interactions are so overrated anyway. So is winging it. And sobriety.

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Make sure you set up a few party games for your guests to interact with one another (because, let’s face it, it’s unlikely you will get three to five hours of actual uninterrupted-by-life time to sit and focus on making sure every guest gets to know you on a deep, personal level!) They can’t just be any random game, though. You don’t want to shatter this illusion of competency with an unstructured party! The games should match up with your book somehow.

Theme is the key word. Everything needs to tie in to your book, so you better be certain of what the underlying theme is so you can apply it to your launch. This is not the time for novels written for the sake of writing. It has to have an ulterior motive. Or, you know, something you can hashtag the crap out of. Make it relevant. It doesn’t matter if you started writing it before the age of the internet (or that it’s set in 17th century Bavaria), if you want to get the most hits out of this shindig, then you better find a way to weave the “Fake News” narrative in there.

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Also, let’s talk giveaways. If we are being completely honest with ourselves, we know the giveaways are the only real reason most of these people take five minutes out of their day to pop in. Without them, all you have to offer is a book you wrote. That hardly seems worthy compensation for their time spent with you. And don’t even think about having nothing to offer your guests other than a free copy of the work you are promoting. Years of effort and tears or not, that is a cheap way to go about things.

I mean, you are an author, are you not? You need to dip into the buckets of wealth you’ve obviously somehow made prior to putting this book out for sale, and find things people actually want. That way, when they pass by a copy of your novel on the shelves, they will be overcome with warm fuzzy feelings and remember getting the Target gift cards, the custom t-shirt you spent $30.00 to make (each), or the Kindle Fire they can now read other people’s books on. Those memories won’t make them actually buy your novel, but gosh, isn’t it a nice gesture?

If you think people are going to remember you by the novel you’ve been sweating over, then maybe you should go buy a few more books on publishing and marketing. You’ll get over those dewy-eyed dreams of trending on Twitter, I promise.

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Here is where it gets interesting! All that careful researching, planning, crafting, luring, and binge-drinking you’ve done over the last month? Toss it. Forget about it. Pretend it never happened.

Why does this have to be so complicated? You wrote a book. You decided to self-publish. Was that not masochistic enough for you? If this is your first book, I’m going to let you in on a secret I stumbled upon in the end-days of researching: There is little to no chance that throwing an elaborate launch is going to do you any good. Why? Because no one knows who you are! I mean, really. Say you didn’t do the whole twitter thing, the whole networking and rubbing elbows with established authors thing. Let’s just say that, as far as recognition is concerned, no matter how many times you’ve retweeted one of those wacky writers you love, it has done NOTHING to put your name out there for people to recognize.

Would you follow some random guy on the street corner because he shouts about some party he’s throwing in your face as you walk by? No? Exactly. It’s better if you get your name out there with some of your actual work before you attempt this. No one likes those writers that tweet nothing but links to buy their book. No one like being shouted at to pay attention to something! 

If no one knows who you are, and you don’t have the benefit of word-of-mouth advertising for your party, that’s pretty much the equivalent of a buy-link avalanche on twitter.

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Congratulations, if you made it this far, then you have successfully walked my own personal path of throwing a launch party. The bottom line? There isn’t gonna be one for Deny the Moon. Not like everyone says to do. Not yet.

I was making myself insane over doing this the “right way” this time, until finally I realized the right way does not exist. What works for all those other writers won’t work for me, and probably won’t work for you. Trying to copy their success (or attempt at it) isn’t authentic to me. I’m a fledgling author with one little novel. No one outside of my family and friends really know my name, and a good deal of them don’t pay much attention to my writing journey. How in the Hell am I supposed to make a name for myself if I only have one book? How am I supposed to make more books if I waste ALL my free time trying to pimp out this one?

I won’t. So, this Saturday, I won’t be throwing a Launch Party for my book after all. You can still stop by the Duckicorn Facebook page if you like, as I will still try to post some random tidbits. If you want to ask a question or start a discussion I am all for it! But I think I’m going to celebrate the relaunch by working on the sequel, for real this time. Maybe when that one is done, I will try again. Who knows. There might be a Kindle Fire in the future.**

**For me, not to give away. You heard me mention I am self-published, right?
A note about this post:
Most of this is pretty tongue-in-cheek and meant as a vent for my personal frustrations with marketing yourself and your book on your own. I do want to make one thing clear before I depart: Launch Parties can be a great tool for getting to know your audience. They won’t work for everyone, but quite a few authors have found success in them and this is not to belittle that success in any way. It works for some people. Some people it doesn’t. The point is to find the ways that work for you, rather than just going through with something because “everyone else is doing it.” I truly don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to promote yourself. There is only the way best suited for your product. 🙂 Cheers, and good luck!

~Melissa

#Excerpt: Deny the Moon

We are just over two weeks away from the re-launch of Deny the Moon! I don’t know about you, but I am getting super excited! Not just because I’ve been dying to get this back on the shelves, but also because it will be the start of new projects for me. I can finally turn my focus—cause let’s face it, I don’t have much to spare!—to my other works to try and get them out there for you guys.

Because I love to share, I felt that now was as good a time as any to give a little sneak-peek snack-sized bite of Deny the Moon for you all to enjoy. Take a gander, and if you like what you see then please join us on April 7th at Duckicorn’s facebook page for the little Re-Launch shindig. And if you really can’t wait two more weeks, and you like to review things, the first five people to sign up for the Duckicorn ARC Team Mailing list will get a free copy of Deny the Moon to read and review, as well as be first in line to receive Advance Review Copies of future works from us at Duckicorn Creative Squad! Why would you ever turn down free books!

Become a member of the ARC Team!

Okay, enough shenanigans and tomfoolery. Get your sneak peek below and mark your calendars for April 7th!

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Traffic along South Quentin Avenue began to slow as the night dragged on, allowing him an almost-unobstructed view inside the restaurant across the road. Only the occasional car driving past broke the scene before him, robbing a few seconds of her flirtatious smile from him. He’d been standing there for nearly two hours, and it looked like they weren’t going to be leaving any time soon.

God, she was beautiful. More than she’d ever been, if it was possible. Her face was alive and vibrant as she spoke, her hands animated with whatever story she was sharing with the man at her table. For once, it looked as if she had thrown all of her worries aside and allowed herself to live in the moment, to enjoy life and all it had to offer her, and he hated her for it. He hated the way this man could bring that coy smile to her lips, the way she fluttered those eyelashes at him, and lightly touched his arm as they talked.

He’d been looking for her for several months. Every city they passed through, he couldn’t help but wonder if she was nearby, if she was right under his nose. Like most things Harley did to him, her running off had made him crazy. He didn’t know what she’d done with his bike, if she’d gotten herself hurt, or worse, if she’d moved on. Watching her with this guy, it appeared as though she had done just that.

A waiter set a plate between them. The man grabbed his fork and dug it into the fat slice of chocolate cake then offered it to Harley. Rage roiled within him as she leaned over the table and let the guy feed her.

Oh, but that bitch was gonna pay. She would pay for what she put him through, how she made him feel, but first, he was going to tear that jackass limb from limb.

Frank’s cell rang in his jacket pocket and, tamping down his anger, he answered it on the third ring.

“Yeah,” he growled.

“Where are you?” the voice was impatient.

“Who are you, my mama?”

Harlow growled over the line. “Don’t start with me, Essex. You’re on thin ice as it is, you know. Now, if it were up to me… I’d have skinned you alive the night you let the girl ride away on your little toy. You had one job to do, and you fucked it off. However, my father thinks you’ll be worthwhile, yet.”

“Is that so?” Frank laughed derisively. “Must piss you off that daddy likes me better.”

“Don’t get too cocky, jackass. You’re about one wrong move from being on his shit list. Please,” he said the word with longing. “Please, give him a reason to send me after you.”

“Sorry, dickweed. You’re not my type,” Frank breathed as his eyes moved back to Harley.

She was reaching over and wiping something off the guy’s lower lip. Frank’s grip tightened on his phone so hard that it began to creak in protest. “What the fuck do you want, Harlow? I’m a little busy right now so if you just called to bust my balls—”

“Have you found her yet?”

Frank stared at the woman in the restaurant. Her hair was different. Blond and shorter than before, but there was no doubt that it was her. It was tragic, really. So many memories of that long, thick, dark hair as it tickled down his body. The tips sliding silkily over his skin as she teased him. So many memories of her and the things she could do. His dick hardened at the mere thought of it.

“No,” he growled as he watched them together. “Still no sign of the bitch.”

Follow me on Twitter at @MelissaGraham85 or @Duckicorn_squad or join us at the Duckicorn community fb page for updates on this and other projects, inspiration and encouragement, and just plain quirky goodness.

DENY THE MOON: #CoverReveal and more!

There is something to be said for trying to do everything on your own. When it comes to self-publishing, usually that something is, “Noooo! Don’t do that! Hire someone! What are you doing?!” That’s not to say there aren’t authors out there who can both write and edit their work or market their product and design their own book covers, but the vast majority really shouldn’t. I should know, I’m one of them.

Now I have some experience in Adobe Photoshop, but really all that amounts to is 6+ years of self-taught skills. Great when you are editing photos or goofing around with graphics for roleplay sites, but if you think you can skip over a professional book cover—especially when you are self-publishing—then I have some words of caution for you.

Don’t do it!

Seriously. I know it’s a real drag to fork out cash you probably don’t have to pay someone to do something you are confident you could do yourself, but if you don’t you are possibly shooting your book in the foot before it even starts to crawl. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of readers truly do judge a book by it’s cover. It’s the very first impression your work gives to someone scrolling through hundreds and thousands of other books. Why handicap yourself by slapping on a mediocre cover?

The answer is, you shouldn’t. Spend the money, network your connections, get the dang thing made.

You have to give your work—the work you slaved over, tweaked, cried about, and most likely cut yourself off from civilization for—the very best start. This is why, even though I was very proud of the original cover I had made for Deny the Moon, I knew I had to kill my darling and get a professional, and quite frankly better, cover.

Luckily, I came across Silvana G. Sanchez and she dropped me an AMAZING version of my cover. It is everything I wanted from the get go. Trust me, if you are in the market for a beautiful, succinct design, Silvana is where to go. After being blown away for my book, I think it’s safe to say she will be the cover artist for the rest of this series.

 

Okay, okay, enough gabbing about it. The time has come to drop the curtain. I give you the shiny new cover for Deny the Moon!

 

 

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Isn’t it perfection?! I swear, I could stare at it all day (and totally have, haha!) Again, this work was done by the amazingly talented Silvana G. Sanchez, so follow her, talk to her about doing your own cover design, or just congratulate her on being awesome!

FOLLOW SILVANA ON TWITTER AT @SILVANA_MD

Okay, as exciting as the cover reveal is, I promised a few other things. First off, what good is a cover without a book to put it on, right? Those that have followed me from the beginning know how bi-polar I have been with this book. Well, my husband made me promise that this would be my absolute last revision. This is great for you guys though, and for two reasons.

  1. That means I had to make this revision count, which pretty much translates to added content and ironing out every last kink. It also means I had the opportunity to add an excerpt from book two at the end. Yay for more stuff to read!
  2. It also means that after the relaunch of Deny the Moon, I will be putting my focus fully on Raging Spirit. No more being distracted by book one. I must draw the curtain on it and let it be.

So, as of April 7th 2017, Deny the Moon will return to virtual shelves via Amazon and Smashwords distributors.

 

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It’s almost here! And to celebrate the coming relaunch, I am doing a bit of a giveaway! If you sign up for Duckicorn Creative Squad’s bright and shiny newsletter today, you will be entered into a raffle to receive one of FIVE Advance Review Copies (ARCs) to be sent to you immediately! No need to buy anything, just sign up for our not-so-monthly newsletter. It’s that easy!

Click Here to Sign Up for the Duckicorn Newsletter!

Winner will be picked by submitting your emails into an online randomizer and will be announced tomorrow. Keep your eyes on our twitter accounts @MelissaGraham85 or @duckicorn_squad, or on the Duckicorn Creative Squad Facebook page for the winners.

So, all is said and done I think. We have revealed the beautiful cover design by Silvana G. Sanchez, we have announced the relaunch of Deny the Moon on April 7th, and we have opened up a raffle for ARCs of Deny the Moon by subscribing to the Duckicorn Creative Squad’s newsletter. There isn’t much else to say except thank you for stopping by the blog to share this news with me, and more details for the launch party are to come!

So Your Friend Is an Author…

Sometimes your author friends are afraid asking you for help would make them “annoying” or “needy”. Here’s how you can help them out without them even knowing.

Or… you know… here’s way to have them indebted to you. 😉

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Judge

Amazing, Isn’t It?

Yes. It is.

How many authors do you actually know?

Now your friend is one.

The key word there is friend.

This was your friend before. Becoming an author doesn’t change that.

Sure, you can tease your friend about this, if your relationship ordinarily involves teasing.

But your friendship is based on more than just teasing:

  • You support one another. Even if one of you writes a book.
  • You’re honest with one another. Even if you think the book isn’t quite, well, you know.
  • You know each other well. How to get on one another’s nerves. How to put things gently. So you can figure out the right way to share honest feedback.
  • You motivate one another. So in addition to honest feedback, you’ll provide encouragement, motivation, and direction.

Your friend wrote a book. That’s a huge accomplishment. Treat it as such.

There are some things you…

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Mark Your Calendars!

I’m excited. Like, super excited. I’m talking full on Jessie Spano on caffeine pills excited (and yes, I mean the full meltdown.) What do I have to be so excited-yet-mind-numbingly-terrified about, you ask?

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Well, if you didn’t ask I’m going to tell you anyway.

Deny the Moon is in the final stages of being republished! Yes, after yet another go-around with revisions I have finally trimmed and tweaked it to exactly where I want it. Huzzah! Hooray! Bravo! Yippee!

Now, anyone who has kept up with my bi-polar plans and efforts with this book will know that after having pulled it from the virtual shelves to really tighten it up, I had planned to shop the finished manuscript to any agent that will accept a previously self-published work. I knew they were out there, just waiting to have my query pop up in their inbox so they could all clamor to offer me bountiful contracts…

*sighs dreamily*

Of course, what I’ve learned about that is:

  • There aren’t very many agents willing to accept previously self-pubbed works, and
  • Of those that do, you really don’t have much of a chance of selling a work if it wasn’t already selling well to begin with

So, after finding two agents that would accept it, I decided to give it a try with them as a means to get my feet wet and if no one bit, I would go back to self-publishing it. I submitted my queries, heard back from one with a very polite and encouraging form rejection, and have waited several weeks to hear back from the other. Since I have not, I will take that as their version of the FadeAway and mark that up as a no-go.

But I did not admit defeat! I took it as a quick lesson in what my future queries will hold, got the scary first rejection out of the way, and set to putting Deny the Moon back on the shelves. The proper way.

And now here we are!

ON FEBRUARY 18 2017
  • I will reveal the launch date for the re-release of Deny the Moon!
  • I will reveal my sexy, shiny new cover designed by @Silvana_md!
  • And a few other treats!

 

It will all be going down here on my blog two weeks from tomorrow. So are you excited? I know I am! I’ll bet you want a little sneak peek, right? Just a teaser tide-me-over until the 18th? Is that what you want? Well…

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Yep, I know. I’m a mean, awful person. Come on, I have to do something to feel in control, here!

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Guest Blog by @DillWerner ~ Writing #OwnVoices : Exploring Gender Identity and Sexuality

I met Dill Werner several months ago through a blog we both wandered onto. We became critique partners and I quickly realized that there was something special with this one. Not just with their writing (which, let me tell you guys, you’ll want to remember their name!) but with them as a person. Through Dill’s platform on Twitter, I have witnessed hours of encouraging statements, calls to action, and a firm solidarity and love for the LGBTQ+ community. The latter is not only very prominent in their professional and personal life, but is also reflected quite masterfully in the writing I was privileged to get a peek at.

 “It’s not as simple as labeling a character ‘bisexual’ and thinking they’ll be interested dating only male or female characters.”

Because of this, I have asked Dill to guest blog for me. After all, this blog is (mostly) dedicated to becoming an author and all that entails. In the era of #OwnVoices and the voracious appetite agents are—finally—starting to get for diversity in literature, Dill is a shining example of how to successfully and authentically embrace LGBTQ+ both professionally and personally.

Dill Werner on accepting, exploring, and representing Gender Identity and Sexuality:

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to my literary agent telling her the truth: I was genderqueer and preferred to use the pronouns “they/them.” It was important for me to make the transition before my debut novel came out and avoid any misgendering in the public eye. She understood and said she supported me no matter what I chose to do. Luckily, I’m with a literary agency that promotes diversity and protects its authors. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also signed to the president, senior agent, and a NYT bestselling author.

My agent knew from the very beginning that I identified as queer and pansexual. In our first phone conversation, we discussed sexuality, gender, and how I wanted to incorporate LGBTQ+ themes and characters into my work. It’s something I included in my query letter, that “it doesn’t matter what genre or age group I’m writing for, there are always LGBT+ elements and characters in my manuscripts. It’s a part of who I am as a writer.” But writing queer fiction isn’t for everyone. (Note that I used the word queer because I am comfortable with it. Not every LGBTQ+ person is. It’s a word we’re taking back and using to empower ourselves. However, people outside of the LGBTQ+ community shouldn’t use it unless they’re referring to the community or an area of interest, i.e. queer studies.)

Writing from multiple gender point-of-views and incorporating more than two pronouns is something that comes naturally to me. I’ve also had extensive training and education in LGBTQ+ terminology. I know which terms to use with which characters and who prefers to be identified as what. Sometimes, I’ll get it wrong or someone won’t agree with me. That’s their right as a reader. As an author, I expect both positive and negative feedback. It’s impossible for

me to get everything 100% accurate all the time. Even when speaking from my own voice, there will be discrepancies. My experiences may differ greatly from another genderqueer person’s.

If you are preparing to write LGBTQ+ fiction, you must do your research. It’s not as simple as labeling a character “bisexual” and thinking they’ll be interested dating only male or female characters. Bisexuality has evolved to mean something much more. It’s when a person is attracted to someone of the same gender as themselves and to people of one or more different genders. If the character isn’t attracted to their own sex but is attracted to multiple but not all genders, then you might identify them as polysexual. Pansexual broadens bisexuality by saying that a person’s sexual attraction is not limited to gender identity. See? Not so simple.

As someone who is demisexual panromantic, pansexual is the term I prefer to use. It’s less gendered and allows me to connect with a person on a more intimate basis. Bisexual never felt right for me because I didn’t feel included as a genderqueer person. Pan is like holding up a sign that says, “non-binary and trans people welcome.” These are the little things that need to be considered when developing characters, characters who represent real people and real experiences.

Each sexuality comes with its own hurdles. Someone who is bi undergoes different discriminations than someone who is gay/lesbian, poly, or pansexual. This is why speaking from one’s own voice is important. In my current adult manuscript—working title, ZIRKUS—I was thrilled to be able to explore my own sexuality and gender identity through characters who are pansexual, trans, and demisexual. ZIRKUS takes place in an international aerial circus where

performers are gifted with supernatural abilities based on their natural talents—think Cirque du Soleil with magic and an all-queer cast.

Kass is my first on-the-page demi character, and his sexuality is crucial to his development and exploring the relationship he has with his boyfriend, Taras. I was finally able to express myself and bring light to a sexuality that rarely gets any page time.

Taras knew the truth of my sexuality. Not only was I homoromantic, but I was demisexual, too. It was the opposite of love at first sight. For me, emotional intimacy had to come before any sexual attraction could take hold. I wouldn’t allow someone to explore my body unless we held a deep, emotional bond between us. The first time Taras kissed me backstage, it was a disaster—two teenagers fondling each other in the dark. I’d felt nothing because there was nothing to feel, not until we knew each other. Once the connection between us blossomed, it developed into an intensity that raged like a brush fire each time his fingers skimmed mine.

Then there is the beta reader favorite, ringleader Nez. At the beginning of the manuscript, Nez isn’t able to voice the particular name for his non-binary gender identity. He doesn’t know what it is it until he talks it out with his love interest, who supports him unconditionally. His journey mirrored the relationship I have with my spouse and how it helped me discover my gender identity. Nez’s plotline is a thinly-veiled exploration of my own gender identity and was a way for me to cope with the dysphoria that comes along with being trans and non-binary:

“Give me a minute, love. I’m having one of those strange–” [Nez] shook his head, eyes pinched together. “I don’t know, really.”
Dysphoria. The one thing I couldn’t understand. “I get it. No. What am I talking about? I don’t get it. Mensch! That was stupid. I’m sorry.”
“Sadie–”
“What’s the right thing to say?” I asked him. “Because I have no idea.”
Nez hooked a stray curl behind my ear, a gentle touch that reminded me he was there. He was there for me, and I needed to be there for him. “Don’t say anything. Listen.” 

I am fortunate to look past something called the “cis gaze,” an unseen the privilege cis people have that encompasses their unawareness to trans and non-binary struggles within their cisgender world. Simply put, someone with “cis gaze” isn’t aware of everyday trans and non-binary difficulties and often doesn’t think they have to be.

Being genderqueer allows me to look at the world from more than a male, female, or non-binary perspective. I am treated one way by outsiders, but I take bits and pieces from each gender and make them part of my identity. However, I will never know what it’s like to fully transitioned from one gender to another. It’s vital that I understand my limitations and realize some stories aren’t mine to tell. Nez’s story is about coming into one’s gender labels but not about transitioning. My trans siblings have covered transitioning much better, and I will continue to promote their works.

If you’re thinking of entering the world of LGBTQ+ fiction, be mindful. Listen first. Be prepared to take criticism. Know your boundaries. Understand that no matter how much you research and how hard you try to be sensitive to the issues, someone won’t like your work. Learn from your mistakes, listen to concerns, and apologize. We’re all human. Lastly, good luck!

dill-werner

Dill Werner is a LGBTQ+ young adult and adult author signed to The Knight Agency, whohas been featured on The Gay YA and the Daily Dot. When not conspiring to take down the gender binary, they cheerlead amazing people in the queer community and edit their Own Voices narratives about feminist sci-fi heroines and heroes and mystical queer circuses where no one is targeted for their sexual orientation. Find them on Twitter [@DillWerner] or check out their Blog for more ramblings about gender, sexuality, and book reviews.

Book Review: Finding Claire (Hill Country Secrets, Book One) by Pamela Humphrey

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I received an ARC from this author.

This book… wow.

I will start off with stating that this is not my usual preference in genre. I often find myself bored with anything mundane and not magical or supernatural in nature. That being said this book delightfully surprised me!

There was nothing boring about it. The story flowed so well and kept me literally on the edge of my seat. Every time I had to put the book down to do (yuck) real life things, I actually found myself in a near tantrum over having to stop and thinking about the characters in my off time.

Pamela Humphrey knows how to tell a story in a clear, concise, and captivating way and her characters are so realistic and relate-able that I found it hard to think of them merely as characters. She captured the emotions and details of Claire, Alex, and Rainy’s lives very well and makes you care about Claire. She certainly had me DYING to know what happened to her, and the letters from her mother were moving and powerful.

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Perhaps a single qualm I may have had was near the end at the “bad guy reveal”. It teetered dangerously close to cliche for me, and the conflict was very quick and resolved very abruptly once we go there, but still that did not take anything away from my enjoyment of this mystery.

All in all very well written and I am now itching for more Alex and Rainy!! Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Finding Claire, now available at Amazon and other distributors!