author

My Christmas Tree!

My Christmas Tree!

I know it seems odd to be writing about death during the holiday season when joy and good cheer are the order of the day, but I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately for a couple of reasons. First, I began writing a new novel in the fall with a wisecracking, smartass narrator who just happens to be—you guessed it—dead! After a night of hard partying, my protagonist died from an accidental overdose, and while heaven is everything it’s always been touted to be, it’s really not his cup of tea, so he’s trying to earn his way to another life on earth.

“If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character…Would you slow down? Or speed up?” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

The second reason death has been on my mind is that a longtime friend of mine just passed away only weeks after being diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. Her death has deeply shaken me not only because it came so quickly and unexpectedly, but also because she was so full of life and had so much to live for. She is survived by a loving family—including two daughters who are left asking why?

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I was forced to confront my ideas regarding death back when I was in my twenties. My husband of seven years died tragically in a freak accident only months after our daughter was born. Within days of his death, my boss and mentor suffered a major heart attack and also passed away—leaving me widowed and unemployed within the span of a week. I had an infant to care for, a large mortgage to pay, and an IRS audit to get through, but my greatest concern was Where are my husband and my mentor? Are they safe and happy?

I read everything I could get my hands on about death and dying, near death experiences, and people who have stumbled upon life between lives while undergoing past life regression. I gained a lot of comfort from the fact that the accounts are remarkably similar and remarkably positive. Collectively, it seemed to be an affirmation that the spirit does go on. There isn’t room to go into it all here, but the most poignant and inspirational account I’ve read is in Anita Moorjani’s amazing book Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer to Near Death to True Healing. I recommend this book to everyone, even if you’re not searching for answers about life after death. It’s a stunning account of Ms. Moorjani’s experience on “the other side,” and it also serves as a guide to living an authentic life. The bottom line is this: we’re all spiritual beings whose essence is pure love, and the only thing we’re here to do is be our true selves. If we can accomplish that we’ve lived a worthwhile life.

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” ~ Mitch Albom

My friend Nancy was a remarkably authentic individual—smart and sassy, but always concerned about making others feel loved and accepted. She will be fondly remembered and greatly missed by the many who loved her.

Hope I haven’t been too much of a Debbie Downer today. I’ll close with my favorite funny quote about death:

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” ~ Woody Allen

Happy Holidays, everyone! Watch for the upcoming kindle sale of the Transcender Trilogy Complete Box Set during Christmas week. Details will be announced here and elsewhere.

Complete Box Set

Complete Box Set

Jaden and Gabriel by Kat Gavin

Jaden and Gabriel by Kat Gavin

Greetings readers, authors, and aspiring writers. I wanted to share with you some more fabulous art from the amazing Kat Gavin, and to list a  few of the many reasons I love writing (and reading) young adult fiction. Also, scroll down for an awesome Transcender Trilogy countdown sale!

  1. YA IS NOT JUST FOR TEENS! Okay, we didn’t need studies to tell us that adults, young and old alike, read YA, but I was surprised to find that over half of YA readers are over the age of 18. It makes sense, though—some of the most courageous, edgy, and freshest stories today are being written under the YA mantle. I just read an article entitled Against YA that made me want to scream. It suggests adults should eschew the “satisfying endings” delivered by most YA novels in favor of the “complexity of great adult literature.” http://goo.gl/dl8fIW. Seriously? I write (and read) YA precisely to escape the complexities of life. I want to be entertained—to laugh and cry and fall in love with fictional characters, and to have a break from the stresses of everyday life. Bring on the satisfying ending—it’s why I persevere to the last page!
  2. YA CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO BE. Do you love sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia, adventure, and romance? So do I. That’s why I toss them all into my books. In YA, it’s no-holds-barred—from light comedy to dark techno-punk and more. There’s no set formula. Typically, the protagonist is a young adult. That’s it. No steadfast rules. I spent a lot of years practicing law and always thought I’d eventually write a legal thriller. In fact I have several half-written, cheesy legal thrillers tucked inside my desk, but I lost interest because they were boring. Good YA is rarely boring. It takes its own course, and if you give it free rein, you may be surprised where it will lead you.
  3. YA DOESN’T PRETEND TO BE SOMETHING IT’S NOT. Have you ever read a book and felt the author was more worried about impressing the audience (or the critics) with how erudite (read: pretentious and snobby) she is rather than telling a good story? Ugh! A big DNF. YA doesn’t pretend to be high literature. It’s designed to engage the emotions, introduce relatable characters, and speak in a distinctive, youthful voice. We’re all familiar with what it’s like to be young and struggling with first love, difficult friends, parental love/hate relationships, and all the other messy challenges of entering adulthood. These incredibly powerful, unadulterated emotions are what inspire me most. YA gives us a vehicle for understanding how others deal with these universal issues, and after all, isn’t that what story is all about? Seeing how other people clean up the everyday messes of life.
  4. THE YA STYLE IS FUN TO READ AND WRITE. Despite the fact that there are no hard and fast rules for writing YA, I admit that most YA novels seem to have a style of writing that is unique to the category. In general, YA is character driven and plot-heavy (as opposed to stream-of-consciousness or descriptive narration), and it’s faster-paced with large chunks of dialog. The crotchety old curmudgeons out there will say that’s the problem with literature today—it caters to the fast food, instant gratification junkies in our society. Actually, I believe it’s a more modern, engaging way of writing. If the author constructs scenes and shapes characters in an easy-to-visualize manner, snappy dialog can propel the story along like a well-made movie, sweeping up the reader as it goes.
  5. YA CREATES READERS OUT OF OTHERWISE DISINTERESTED YOUNG ADULTS. Have you seen high school summer reading lists lately? Okay, they’re still overloaded with dry, fossilized, dreary tomes from another era, but they seem to be getting a little better. The more enlightened librarians and teachers of today are sprinkling some YA selections in with the timeworn classics of yesteryear, and the results are not surprising—students are discovering the joy of reading! Kudos to those farsighted souls who realize that present day teens do not relate to Lord of the Flies (believe me, I had to listen to my son’s daily complaints).

What do you like most about YA literature?

TRANSCENDER TRILOGY BOX SET: BOOKS 1 AND 2 ONLY $0.99 for a limited time!

BUY HERE

Transcender 2 Box Set

It’s been an exciting few weeks! First, the Transcender Blog Tour and Giveaway was Awesome (with a capital A). Coordinated by my phenomenal friend, Christina Hickey at Ensconced in Lit, I had tons of fun and met some amazing bloggers. If you’re looking for great blogs like I always am, check out the blogs below for insightful reviews, thought-provoking posts, and lots of other fun and noteworthy content. I’m serious people—some of these sites are like works of art. What I’d give for the technical skills! And the Trilogy received some incredible reviews. Also, if you missed any of the tour—like the Dream Cast for the Transcender Movie or the interview with Ryder Blackthorn, you can find it all below! Congratulations to the winners of the Giveaway: Christine, Courtney, Kelly, and Lindsay, and a big Thanks to all who entered.

 

 

Gorgeous Transcender Charms from Julia at YA Book Nerd Reviews!

Gorgeous Transcender Charms from Julia at YA Book Nerd Reviews!

Ensconced in Lit – Review of  entire Trilogy plus Character interview with Jaden and some awesome fan art

Crystal in Bookland– Transcender Character Quiz (which character are you most like?)

Pandora’s Books– Transcender Movie Dream Cast w/ photos

YA Book Nerd Reviews – Review of Transcender: First-Timer

Wonderland of Reading – Review of Transcender: First-Timer

The Whimsical Mama – Guest Post

Fly to Fiction – Review of Transcender: First-Timer

Tea and Fangirling – Review

A Reading Nurse – Guest Post

I Heart YA Fiction – Review of entire Trilogy

Mary Had a Little Book Blog – Review of Transcender and Interview with Ryder Blackthorn

ILLUMINOSITY ThumbnialSecond, the ILLUMINOSITY book cover, designed by another extraordinary friend, Carrie Drazek, was chosen as a finalist in Sci-Fi for the Bookgoodies cover contest. I hope you will all take a few seconds to stop by the site and vote for the cover by leaving a comment, tweeting, and otherwise sharing the site. Each comment and share counts as a vote for the cover! Carrie did an outstanding job designing all three of the Transcender Trilogy covers and she deserves this honor! Vote for ILLUMINOSITY!

Finally, we have a number of fun things coming up in the near future, including a special $.99 promotion of the Transcender Trilogy Two Book Box Set featuring books one and two. The sale will run for no more than a week, after which this box set will be retired. I’m thrilled to announce that a Box Set featuring all three books will be released on Amazon sometime in the fall! More info on that to come.

Enjoy your last few weeks of summer, and check back often for more news and updates!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Goodreads giveaway of ten signed copies of ILLUMINOSITY, and congratulations to all those who won! You’ll be receiving your books soon.

Transcender Complete Box1

If you missed out this time, never fear, on Monday, July 21, I am beginning a week-long, whirlwind Blog Tour and Giveaway—two posts a day with some amazing bloggers! The grand prize is a $50 Amazon gift card and a set of signed Transcender Trilogy books. Second and third place prizes will be awarded also, with a chance to win a Transcender T-shirt.

Transcender T Shirt I hope you’ll follow along and join in the fun! Take the Transcender Character Quiz to see which character you are most like, and don’t miss my Dream Cast for the Transcender Movie. Should be a great time with plenty of opportunities to win!

Transcender Blog Tour Schedule:

 July 21     Ensconced in Lit – review and Crystal in Bookland – guest post

July 22     Pandora’s Books – guest post and Ensconced in Lit – character interview

July 23     YA Book Nerd Reviews  -review and Wonderland of Reading – review

July 24     The Whimsical Mama – guest post and Fly to Fiction  – Review

July 25     Tea and Fangirling – Review and A Reading Nurse – guest post

July 26     I Heart YA Fiction – Author Interview and Mary Had a Little Book Blog – guest post

Also, please sign up for my Newsletter, if you haven’t already. I only send them out occasionally when there is something special to announce!

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck in the Giveaway!

Hi Everyone and Happy Father’s Day! Thought you would enjoy another amazing sketch from talented artist Kat Gavin. This melted my heart. So gorgeous!

Jaden and Gabriel

Jaden and Gabriel

I’m excited to announce a Giveaway on Goodreads of ten signed copies of ILLUMINOSITY, Transcender Trilogy Book 3.  The giveaway runs from today, June 15 to July 15.  Please enter to win here:  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/96384-illuminosity-transcender-trilogy-book-3.

I’m adding a link to an Excerpt of the first three chapters of ILLLUMINOSITY just to whet your appetite. Hope you enjoy!  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/94935558/ILLUMINOSITY%20EXCERPT.docx.

Also, if you’ve read Books 1 and 2 of Trilogy, I would greatly appreciate it if you would stop by the Amazon page for my two-book Box Set and leave a short review.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K8CTRTK . By the way, the Box Set makes a great Father’s Day Gift!

 

 

Are you a writer? Do you actually tell people you’re a writer? If so, do you get questions like “Are you famous?” “Are your books on the New York Times Bestseller list?” “Do you make any money at it?” In the past these questions intimidated me because, in my case, the answers are no, no, and none of your business.

Why do we writers find it so difficult to own up to our profession? Is it our insecurities? Is it that no higher authority has conferred the title upon us? Is it to avoid the probing questions that inevitably follow? For me it’s probably a combination of all of these.

When I graduated law school and passed the bar exam, I proudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen “I’m a lawyer.” My practical experience in the law at that point was paltry at best, but after years of law school and a grueling bar exam, I felt I’d earned the title, and I bandied it about like a badge of honor (though some people took it more as a condemnation than an accolade).

Law Books and NovelsWhy then, after publishing two novels, did I have difficulty saying: I’m an author?

After a bit of thoughtful analysis, I believe the reason is that writing is such an utterly personal endeavor. If you’re doing it right it’s like pulling your guts inside out and exposing the rawest, most vulnerable parts to the world. I passed off my writing as a hobby for so long because I didn’t want anyone to know just how vulnerable I really was. I didn’t want them to observe my innards laid bare and say “is that all you got?”

Lawyers experience wins and losses. Every loss is a blow to the ego, but many factors, other than sheer talent or lack thereof, contribute to legal defeats—maybe the case was a dog to begin with, maybe the client made the all the wrong moves, and so on and so on. In other words, lawyers are handed someone else’s mess and asked to tidy it up as best they can. An unfavorable outcome can’t necessarily be blamed on the lawyer.

Writers on the other hand create something from nothing. We whip words and imagination into combinations as yet unknown on this earth. But if some careless reviewer or tactless acquaintance deems our creation more repugnant than ravishing, our world crashes down. We feel we somehow we don’t measure up, and we have only ourselves to blame. How ridiculous is that?

Writing is art, pure and simple.

Some will appreciate your work, some will not. If you have produced a piece of writing—be it a novel, short story, article, poem, whatever—and you’ve done your best, that, in and of itself, is an amazing accomplishment! You have a right to be proud. Claim it, own it, and have the courage to ignore others’ opinions. Shout from the rooftops “I’m a writer!” Once you wear the mantle proudly, I believe you become a better writer because you now take your role seriously.

It took some time for me to internalize this. But at a recent cocktail party, the hostess introduced me to another guest by saying “This is my friend, Vicky. She’s a lawyer too.” I shook hands with the gentleman and promptly set the record straight. “Actually, I’m an author,” I said. “I haven’t practiced law in years.”

The man nearly swooned with envy. “That’s fantastic! I bet you don’t miss the practice of law at all.”

His reaction made me smile. You know, I haven’t missed the law for a minute!

Do you ever balk at telling people you’re a writer? If so, why? For those of you who declare it proudly, when did you first feel comfortable calling yourself a writer?

About


I’m the author of the Transcender Trilogy, TRANSCENDER: First-Timer, STREAMING STARS, and the upcoming ILLLUMINOSITY, which blends science-fiction, fantasy, and romance in an exciting cross-dimensional adventure.

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