Monday, March 23, 2015

The Great and Powerful A-Z Theme Reveal Blogfest

Sorry for my absence last week, but my work-related-traveling has gone totally cray-cray. In fact, I'll be out of town yet again on business, so my visits have been spotty at best.

But there's always time to take part in fun blogfests, I decided to participate in the A-Z Theme Reveal Blogfest for the first time.

2015 will mark my fourth time being a part of the amazing worldwide phenomenon knows as the Blogging from A-Z Challenge. I'm pretty sure almost all of you know what it is, but for those who are new, it's a blogging challenge where you have to post every day (but Sunday) during the month of April. And your posts must follow the alphabet. So Day #1 will be "A."

If you haven't signed up yet, you can do so here.

Here's my previous A-Z Challenge themes:

2012: A-Z Everything STEAMPUNK
2013: A-Z The 80s
2014: A-Z One Hit Wonders

This year, the 2015 A-Z Challenge is going to be dedicated to fellow blogger Tina Downey. Tina
struggled from pulmonary hypertension, and she passed away in August of last year. Unfortunately, I wasn't a regular reader of her blog (which started back in 2009), but I got to know her from the tremendous outpouring of love and tributes from her fans.

So Tina, this one's for you!

Without further ado, I'm excited about sharing with you my theme for the Blogging A-Z Challenge for 2015...

A-Z World Mythology

Many of you know how much I love mythology from different cultures and how it's influenced my writing. I grew up reading lots of Greek, Arthurian, Roman, Japanese, Chinese, and some African mythology, and I hope to share my love with all of you. Expect many favorites mixed in with the obscure. I'm going to include Norse, Aztec, Arabian, Hebrew, Hindu, and even Native American myths.

Looking forward to being a part of this big challenge. My favorite part is getting to visit new blogs and being visited by new readers. It's going to be a blast!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" and Defying Reason

It's tough to argue with the philosophy that the first line to your novel needs to have impact. It has to set the tone and suck the reader into your world. Just think about these iconic first lines:

"Call me Ishmael" (Moby Dick)
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." (Lolita)
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." (1984)
"I am an invisible man." (Invisible Man)
"It was a pleasure to burn." (Fahrenheit 451)

Did you know there's a fun contest for writers to come up with the WORST first line of a novel?

The English department at San Jose University has held a little contest called the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest since 1982. All you have to do is submit the ugliest first line you can come up with, and you could win bragging rights and about $150.00.

You can learn more about how to enter (via email) HERE.

Coming up with a horrid first line is actually tougher than it sounds. Here are just a few of my favorite winners from years past:

2002 Winner: On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until it goes nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained. -- Rephaph Berg

2012 Winner: As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and if so, his soul needed regrouting. -- Cathy Bryant

...and last but not least, the 2010 Winner and my personal favorite:

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss - a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil. -- Molly Ringle

What are you waiting for? GO ENTER!

Defying Reason by Elizabeth Seckman

Did you know that the 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, once killed a man in a duel over his wife's honor? Seems Rachel Donelson Jackson had a checkered past. It was scandalous enough that she was a divorcee, but it was later determined she was a bigamist. She'd been unhappily married to her first husband, Captain Lewis Robards, and left him thinking he was filing for the divorce. Seems he never did.  When Jackson ran for president, the news picked up on Rachel's past and she was labeled a wicked woman. Jackson still won the election, but sadly Rachel didn't survive the campaign and never got to be the First Lady. 

The Blurb:

Jo Leigh Harper comes from a long line of trouble-making, white trash stock.
Tanner Coulter comes from a longer line of wealth-creating, blue blood stock.
Jo graduated college top of her class, moving toward a future full of possibilities.
Tanner dropped out of college, trading a law degree for drinking games and one night stands.

A family crisis throws the rich party boy and the poor genius girl together. The attraction is immediate, though neither one is a heart-in-the-sand-drawing believer in true love. But as the summer sun heats up along the shores of the Outer Banks, so does the connection between them. Maybe, just maybe, they can win at love by defying reason.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth is a multi-published author of books for people who are believers in happily-ever- after, true love, and stories with a bit of fun and twists with their plots. The mother of four young men, she tackles laundry daily and is the keeper of the kitchen. She lives along the shores of the Ohio River in West Virginia, but dreams daily of the beach. 

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 2015 IWSG - The Little Things Weigh A Lot

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

It's March! To me, the month of March has always been that month of transition. Where Old Man Winter might sucker punch us here in the Midwest one day, and then Spring tries to tease us with temps in the 50s the next. March is also the end of the first quarter, from a business standpoint, so it's a good time to reflect on how the firs 25% of 2015 has been shaping up.

Luckily, nothing catastrophic has happened to make me go into full-blown meltdown mode.

Thinking about the first quarter of 2015, I'm still bothered by the little things not going my way and filling me with doubt and insecurity. These little things do tend to add up.

* My sales continues to barely make a blip. I now have four books out. Two from my steampunk series, and another two from my teen paranormal/thriller series with Quixotic Publishing. Overall, sales have been almost non-existent in 2015

* My beta readers are dropping like flies. I was hoping to get feedback from all my betas by now, but I've only received one. Life happens, and I'm not sure if they rest are going to be able to help me with my third book.

* I have my first author event in a little over a month. This event was my very first show EVER last year, and it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot. My sales didn't cover my cost of driving to Indiana, my hotel room, or other expenses, but I needed that experience. But this year, I'm wondering if I'll experience dismal sales yet again.

* Where's my muse. Anybody seen her?  I haven't written anything new since January.

* Wizard World Comic Con is a huge event here in St. Louis. The cost of an author/artist table is $325. Yikes!!! A couple of authors said it's a good event, but it's a big gamble.

* My official author website has been up and running for about seven months. I've gotten good feedback from people who visited. Yet, I hardly get visitors that aren't from Russia trying to hack it. Thank you Google Analytics for letting me know that, by the way.

So yeah, these little things are like tiny needles poking me. Not enough to kill me, yet enough to draw blood. My first year as a full-fledged author was filled with so many highs and lows, and my second year hasn't started out with much of a bang.

It's been more of a whimper.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Steampunk Hands Around the World 2015

Steampunk: Our Playground, Our Classroom, our Workshop

Probably the simplest definition of steampunk I can come up with is: It’s an artistic movement based on retro-futuristic elements.

Steampunk is a reimagining of the past and the future that never was. Generally speaking, it’s a mish-mash of the Victorian Period, the Industrial Revolution, and the speculative aspect of technology common in science fiction.

But for many of us, steampunk is more than a mere visual art, fashion statement, or aesthetic (although all of that is VERY important to the genre). Steampunk can be such a fun playground. Visually, steampunk is just so striking and beautiful.

As a writer, I use steampunk to explore many of the major societal-historical issues existing out of the 19th century world. Think about it…the 19th century saw such tremendous growth in intellectual, technological, and sociological expression. Like anything else, such growth and prosperity came at a tremendous cost.

19th century history is also riddled with all kinds of oppression: racial, sexual, social, and economic inequality. European Imperialism might have started in the 15th century, but there was an explosion of colonization in Asia, South America, and Africa by the European powers.
Here in America, our country struggled with slavery, the industrial revolution, and social upheaval. Globally, conflicts arose from the British, French, Dutch, Russian empires extending their reach beyond their borders.

It’s easy for an artist to pull from history and find all kinds of profound conflict to explore. Along with all this global upheaval came the intellectual boom. People began to apply science to society in its attempt to understand the human condition. Marx, Comte, Darwin…these were just some of the big thinkers to propel the social sciences.

Literature in the 19th century gave birth to the Realism Movement. They were a sharp contrast to the Romantics. These new writers tried to portray the world not as they wished it would be like, but as it truly was. Life could be unfair, brutal, and filled with strife.

Steampunk is such a powerful platform to explore all of these themes, yet have some fun in the process. On the surface, all the cool steampunk aesthetics might seem pretty and otherworldly. But if you dig deeper, you’ll find that the steampunk movement is:

* An exploration of where we’ve come from (history)
* The imaginative expression of “what if” (speculative)
* Where we might going (future)
* A reflection of our society today (contemporary)

Steampunk has served as a way for many of us to learn more about ourselves, yet stretch our imaginations in the process. We can still tackle the profound societal ills that still plague us in the 21st century, but we can do so in a way that is appealing, fun, and interesting.

Jay Noel, author of The Mechanica Wars series can be found at

Monday, February 16, 2015

Time To Toot

My book sales are anemic, at best, but there's been a lot of good things that have happened. At this point in my writing career, I have to celebrate my little victories when I can. Otherwise, this blog would become one big IWSG website.

Writers are an insecure bunch.

I feel a need to toot my own horn.

So here's three things I can celebrate:

1) My author visit to a local middle school went so great, several students want to form a writer's club. How cool is that? They want me to come in whenever I can, after school every other Friday, and help them hone their craft. There's a lot of young talent out there, and I'm excited to help these 14 and 15 year olds find their voices. They have named their club The Write Place, and their first meeting is this Friday.

2) Around the holidays, I had a reader actually modify an action figure in honor of my main character in my steampunk series. Although I don't know much about the craft of action figure modification, I know this reader put a lot of effort into it. It always makes me happy when someone who has read my stuff actually likes it. And to have someone do something like

Action Figure!

3) The book trailer for my third book in The Mechanica Wars series is done. It's titled, Iron Warrior, and I'm really proud of this book. I always tell people that I write these stories to entertain. My writing is an escape. But there's a layer of some deeper, more profound stuff in my writing. And Iron Warrior, beneath it's kick ass steampunk awesomeness, has some depth to it.

Here's the trailer. If you have time, take a quick look-see and tell me what you think. Again, thanks to Enggar Adirasa's artistic superpowers.

How about you? What's something that you need to celebrate?