There’s Another World Out There

Vintage reads

Women’s rights. Poverty. Art. Non-western culture. Microfinance.

All the above topics can be found in a book written for girls ages eight to ten. “Sounds ambitious,” you might comment. Yes, and Mitali Perkins meets those ambitions with great success. I can’t call it a “Vintage Read.” It’s only going on ten years old, but I thought I’d let the teacher in me come out for today’s topic. Mitali Perkins

Rickshaw_Girl

Rickshaw Girl is set in Bangladesh in modern times. Naima is around ten years old, the daughter of a rickshaw driver. She is forced to leave school since her parents can’t pay fees for more than one child. Now, it’s her younger sister’s turn. Naima has tremendous artistic talent, but what good is that? As a female, she never expects to get a job much less be able to use her talent.

From that premise, Naima gets herself into a few scrapes as she bungles her efforts to contribute to family finances. From facing down the prejudice of boys her own age to learning about the possibilities of borrowing from a “bank” for women who want to start a business, Perkins teaches these concepts with a vocabulary that young readers can understand. Central to Naima’s story is her talent for creating alpanas, beautiful geometrical and floral designs painted in rich colors.

Alpana design. Photo by Sanjay K Ram (2007) on Flickr

Alpana design. Photo by Sanjay K Ram (2007) on Flickr

Rickshaw Girl may be better introduced through assigned reading in schools or homeschools.  My granddaughter, who devours all books on fantasy and princesses, didn’t show much interest when I showed her the cover of Rickshaw Girl.

However, just as we don’t feed our children entire meals of rich desserts, we should add more than one genre to their reading diet. I insisted that my children eat their meat and vegetables, and when I next see my granddaughter, we’re going to read this book together. Who knows? Rickshaw Girl may spark Hannah’s interest in other cultures, leading her to missions work or philanthropic projects for those in need.

Microfinance Women photo credit to athiqahnuralami.wordpress.com

Microfinance Women photo credit to athiqahnuralami.wordpress.com

When I was a child, I didn’t like books written in diary form. Still don’t, as a general rule, but if someone hadn’t forced me to read a journal written during World War II by some girl in Holland, I might never have discovered my passion for Holocaust history.

A free copy of Rickshaw Girl to the first person who tells me the identity of that girl in Holland.

Kerry Nietz’s first last book

Kerry Nietz is no stranger to our blog. He originally signed our slam book back in 2013 when the first of his Peril in Plain Space novels, Amish Vampires in Space, released. He was back last year to discuss Amish Zombies from Space. Now, he’s guest posting for us and brings with him two gifts: one for readers and the other for writers.

For readers: A Star Curiously Singing is free for a limited time. Grab this one while you can. It’s one of my favorite books!

For writers: Kerry gives us the gift of encouragement with this guest post. Since I’m in the querying process, it’s a timely gift for me. Perhaps it’s a timely gift for you as well. 🙂


This was supposed to be my last novel.

ASCS

foxtalesIn the fall of 2003 my first book—a memoir entitled FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software—was published, and I hoped it would smooth the road for me to become a published novelist. Anyone familiar with the publishing business knows that few first books (or second books, or third books) breakout enough for a writer to have publishers knocking on their door. Few books, in fact, sell more than a couple hundred copies. But alas, I was both naïve and optimistic.

Over the course of the next five years I wrote a handful of novels, corrected them, and queried publishers about them. I had a few nibbles, but ultimately nothing happened. I’d written a lot of words, but none of them were going anywhere.

By the winter of 2007, I’d reached the conclusion that my dream of being a novelist wasn’t going to happen. I’d tried a lot, learned a lot, but the road now looked like an unplowed field.

Still, I had this story idea about a computer programmer of the future. I also wanted to experiment with writing an entire novel in first person present tense. I’d written the prologue of FoxTales that way and wondered whether I could maintain it for an entire novel.

I decided I’d write one last story…for me. I didn’t care if anyone ever read it. I didn’t care if I even corrected it or queried about it. I was simply going to write it for my own enjoyment. Then quit.

So, while waiting in an airport one day, I pulled out my laptop, created a new document, and wrote:

It is hard to describe, this buzzing in my head. It wakes me, obviously. But it is hard to clarify for someone like you—at least the type of person I assume you to be—someone with a free head.

Almost fifty thousand words later I had a first draft. I read it over. I knew it wasn’t perfect. I knew it was a little short. Yet there was something about the book, tentatively titled 2000 AP, that I thought was truly unique. I decided to find a second opinion.

I knew of a guy, Jeff Gerke, who had just started his own publishing house. I knew he also worked as a freelance editor. One of his editorial services was a complete read through of a manuscript along with an opinion as to whether it was publishable. I hired him to perform that service with 2000 AP in the spring of 2008.

Months went by.

Finally, in the fall of 2008 he sent me a message. “I’m reading it now. I love it.”

He concluded that the book needed a better beginning, a revised ending, and a handful of other changes. “If it had all those things,” he said, “I would publish it myself.”

I spent the better part of a year making those additions, and in the fall of 2009 the book, now titled A Star Curiously Singing was published. My first last novel. There have been five last novels since.


 About A Star Curiously Singing

** Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal Award Winner **

Sandfly is a debugger. He is property, bought and paid for in an Earth under sharia law. All faiths but one have been banned. And the rule of the great Imam is supreme.

As a debugger, Sandfly has an implant in his head that connects him to the world’s technology–and doles out mental shocks to keep him obedient. All he wants is to fix bots and avoid shocks.

Now he’s been called into Earth orbit. The masters have a new spacecraft–one capable of interstellar flight. On its maiden voyage, the only robot on board went mad and tore itself apart.

Why? Better question: does it pose any risk to humans?

When Sandfly reviews the bot’s final moments, he perceives something unexpected. Something impossible.

As Sandfly pieces together the clues, a trap spreads beneath his feet. If he solves the mystery, he may doom himself. And if he fixes the robot, he may shatter his world.

Suspenseful, unique, and awash in cyberpunk jive, A Star Curiously Singing presents a bleak future that might be closer than we think.

GET YOUR FREE COPY HERE.

NOW YOU: Are you a reader or a writer? What are you reading/writing now?

 

Special Notice: Goodreads Giveaway

If you’ve wanted to read the second novel of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, now’s your chance! Author and Scriblerian Cynthia Toney is hosting a giveaway of a signed print copy on Goodreads.com. This giveaway is open to addresses in the U.S. and Canada.

You don’t necessarily have to read the first novel, 8 Notes to a Nobody, to understand the second. If you’d prefer to read the books in order, look for an announcement soon about how to acquire a free Kindle version of 8 Notes to a Nobody.

If you are not a member of Goodreads, here are some reasons to join–and these are only a few!

  • It doesn’t cost a thing.
  • It’s a great place to find out about books with topics or themes you’re interested in.
  • It’s a great place to meet authors, writers, and readers with similar interests.
  • You can keep track of books you’ve read and want to read.
  • You can rate or review books and see other members’ ratings and reviews.
  • You can recommend books to friends and receive recommendations.
  • You can be notified of giveaways for books on your to-read list.
  • You can search for giveaways and enter them.

So, what are you waiting for? Someone will win, and it could be you!

Goodreads Giveaway of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

10 steps

Christa Kinde’s Alter Ego Tells All . . . and a chance to win an autographed, beautifully-illustrated book and an e-book as well!

Today, we have a very special guest, Christa Kinde (KIN-dee), prolific author of fairy tales, epic adventures, comic misadventures, light and sweet romance, clever allegories, whimsical fantasies, far-flung journeys, knotty mysteries, and more.

Christa, thanks for posting in The Scriblerians ‘visiting author’ slam book:

Nicknames: Marmee, CJ, codename “Sugar Daddy” (my husband is “Nacho Mama”)
Genre: Fantasy & Christian Speculative Fiction
Personal Philosophy: “Be brave and do your best.”
Fave Scripture: “Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.” –Micah 6:8
Fave Quote: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” –C. S. Lewis
In high school, I was a… voracious bookworm with lamentable social skills and a formidable vocabulary.

 
Christa we’re delighted you joined us today to talk about the Galleries of Stone series. After publishing so many successful books, why did you write this trilogy under the nom deplume C. J. Milbrandt?

The books I’ve written as Christa Kinde—both fiction and nonfiction—belong solidly in the Christian market. When I approached my publisher about doing a fantasy series, they advised me to abandon the plan. It didn’t fit my author brand. So I shelved a short stack of magic-laced manuscripts and focused on the angels and demons in my Threshold Series.

But I began quietly investigating my indie options. Maybe it’s because I’m a “from scratch” kind of gal, but I love managing the creative process from start to finish. So my family-friendly fantasy is published under my maiden name—C. J. Milbrandt.

c-j-milbrandt
And all of us are very glad you made the decision to follow your dream! I recently read Rakefang, the riveting third book of the Galleries of Stone, and I found it very hard to put down each night. What is your inspiration for such diverse stories?

Story ideas aren’t hard to come by. It’s near impossible to avoid the pesky things. Their ambushes throw my imagination into a tizzy and make me wish I could type faster.

However, Galleries of Stone trilogy is a special case. The story began as a personal challenge. For one year, I used an online dictionary’s “word of the day” as inspiration for my daily installment. On January 1, all I knew for sure was that the Keeper of the Gray Mountain was a banished Pred—a sheep in wolf’s clothing. And that Tupper Meadowsweet, his new Flox servant, was either brave, dense, or brilliant.

With each day’s addition, new complexities unfolded. I built the world to suit the story’s needs, making new discoveries right along with Tupper. By December 31, I had 366 chapters (2012 was a leap year) and more than 300,000 words. After some minor edits and a few additions, I released Galleries of Stone as a trilogy: Book One: Meadowsweet (2013), Book Two: Harrow (2014) and Book Three: Rakefang (2015).

Your target audience is tweens/teens, yet I’m also drawn to the delicately entwined layers of allegory and symbolism. What do you hope readers—of all ages—will take away from your books? 

I’ve often wished that books could be rated “E for Everyone.” I write what I enjoy reading—adventures with action, a surprising turn of events, a hint of mystery, and a smidgen of romance. If only “heart-warming” was a genre.

Takeaways? Hmm. The three highest compliments my stories have received are laughter, tears, and a warmly-expressed intention to re-read. I want folks to come away from a book feeling that they know the characters. Let’s add joy over the journey they’ve just taken. Satisfaction in its resolution. Anticipation for what’s to come. And with each successive title, a deepening trust in the storyteller.

Well, I for one am hooked because I’ve already started re-reading them. One of the things I like is that Galleries of Stone and your other series immerse readers into the heart of a rich story world, where customs, culture, and relationships unfold in a natural way (and I’d be remiss to not mention that the covers and chapter headings are like works of art). Can you tell us more about how you develop such detailed, fantasy worlds?

Over the course of the trilogy, I invented multiple cultures. Pred are vicious conquerors with an elitist mindset. Grif add a showman’s flourish to all they do. Drom are cantankerous plodders with a passion for spice and melons. Clow honor their tribal ancestry. Fwan are gentle lovers of beauty, but brutally superstitious. It’s a vast and varied world.

By contrast, Tupper’s whole life is bound up in one small village. He didn’t know there were other races of men. He’d never heard of magic. He had no concept of an ocean, let alone distant continents. But when confronted with a wider world, Tupper rolls up his sleeves and chips away at racial barriers. He adapts and adopts new ways of thinking, seeing, and doing. Frey’s “lambkin” makes a big difference in small ways.

Yes, he does. Tupper is one of my favorite characters.  In the Galleries of Stone series, which character is most like you and why? 

There’s a little bit of me sprinkled throughout the trilogy—attitudes, insights, bits of advice, turns of phrase. The strongest resemblances would likely be Carden’s love of family, Freydolf’s restlessness to create, and Aurelius’s formidable vocabulary. 

If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which one would it be and what would you do together?

I wish I had the courage to say Aurelius, but he scares me. So Freydolf. And since the Keeper can’t stray far from his mountain, I’d ask for a tour of the Statuary.

I, too, would like a tour of the statuary and the magical figures the Keeper carefully reveals within the stone! The mountain is a place that came alive for me through your writing!

Christa, thank you for coming on The Scriblerians to talk to our readers! I’ve listed her contact info below. Her websites and blogs are a wonderful world of sample chapters, beautiful artwork, and behind the scenes info on your favorite stories. Check it out!

Continue reading below for a sample chapter from the first book of the Galleries of Stone Trilogy and a chance to win an autographed, beautifully-illustrated book and an e-book as well!

Christa Kinde
Website/Bloghttps://christakinde.wordpress.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ChristaKinde
Twitter – @ChristaKinde
GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/642522.Christa_Kinde

C.J. Milbrandt
Website/Bloghttp://cjmilbrandt.com/
Galleries of Stone on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Galleries-of-Stone/1480104452254159
Byways on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Byways/840562655975459
Twitter – @Elymnifoquent
GoodReadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7465580.C_J_Milbrandt

Christa’s books are available here:
Christa Kinde on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Christa-Kinde/e/B007O45N7A C. J. Milbrandt on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/C.-J.-Milbrandt/e/B00H1D6PLW

Galleries of Stone Trilogy

Galleries of Stone Trilogy

 

 

Excerpt from Galleries of Stone, Book 1: Meadowsweet

With a flurry of silk and sulk, Aurelius burst into the workshop and demanded, “Have you seen the sprat?”

Freydolf glanced over the top of the golden stone he was marking and inquired, “Recently?”

“Since breakfast,” his brother-in-law clarified.

“I’ve been a little distracted.”

“And I’m being driven to distraction! Do you know how much work is waiting?”

“Yes and no,” Freydolf replied vaguely. “I usually leave such things to you.”

Aurelius rolled his eyes. “Very trusting of you, but I thought we’d agreed that you’d be entrusting your pet to me for the duration.”

“Aye.”

“So you haven’t seen him?” Aurelius prodded.

“Maybe he’s hiding from you.” Giving the other man a stern look, he added, “You could have been more polite at breakfast.”

“I was!” he insisted. “For me.”

Freydolf snorted and said, “If you don’t bridle your tongue, you’ll never win the lad over.”

“I’ll bridle my tongue when you collar your pet,” Aurelius muttered. “He’d be easier to find if you kept him on a leash.”

“Have you tried behind the rimbles in the upper loggia?”

The other Pred blinked. “The what in the where?”

“In the upper loggia,” Freydolf patiently repeated. After offering a convoluted set of directions to the tucked-away spot, he remarked, “It’s pleasant there, especially in summertime.”

Aurelius stared dubiously at his brother-in-law. “Do you really expect me to believe that I’ll find him way up there?”

“Not really,” Freydolf admitted, turning his attention back to the stone and making a sweeping chalk line along its side. With a growl, Aurelius exited the workshop, and Freydolf looked down at the boy sitting on the floor between his feet and winked broadly.

Tupper’s eyes shone with gratitude, admiration, and the rare delight of a shared secret. He was quite sure that his Pred was bigger and better than any other.

–End of excerpt–

Dear readers, we would love to hear from you. Tell us which book of the Galleries of Stone you’d like to win, or ask Christa a burning question you’ve always wanted to know about the fantastic realms she creates, or simply leave your thoughts on today’s post!  

One lucky commenter will win The Blue Door from Christa’s Threshold series and another lucky commenter will win an e-book of choice from the Galleries of Stone trilogy.

(if you have technical problems leaving a comment, scroll up and click on the blog title; the comment form will then appear at the bottom!)

 

Why buy it if you can get if for free?

cow and book

You’ve heard the old saying, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

Generally, it’s used as a metaphor to argue for abstinence before marriage–something along the lines of, “if a boy is getting sex from you, then why would he marry you?” If that’s the subject you’re interested in, then you need to join the thousands of people who read Beth Steury’s blog about abstinence and renewed abstinence because sex is not what I’m here to talk about today. Nor cows. Nor milk.

I’m talking about books.

So far in 2015, I have “bought” 80 free books. Seriously. I went through my Amazon account and counted. I have so many unread books on my kindle (321), that I just dump them in my cloud reader for a rainy day. Or a day when people actually start making me buy books.

Ebooks are either free or so cheap that we all have huge TBR (to be read) piles. What started as a promotional tool has become common place. It’s gotten so bad that we can’t even give books away for free anymore. It’s no wonder that when I host giveaways on my blog, I get so few responses. What is the enticement? And yet authors are still doing it…

If this is you, if you’re giving away your books for free and hoping for readership or reviews, then stop the madness. Or at least market responsibly. Here are my suggestions:

  1. It’s okay to give away the first book in a series (and two books does NOT count as a series). This makes sense. If I read your first book and like it, I’ll buy the rest and read them too.
  2. Instead of offering your book for free, offer it for a discount. That way you still make money. And, to be honest, I’m more likely to read something I’ve purchased than something I’ve gotten for free. It has more perceived value.
  3. If you want to spark interest in your book, do a Goodreads giveaway. Go ahead and give your book away…to 1 or 2 people at a time. Let people put it on their wish lists. Let them see if over and over again and be interested in it. They’ll eventually purchase it. And they’re more likely to read a book that they’ve purchased. (See #2).
  4. If you want to get more reviews, create a street team/reader group. Make those free copies count. Invest in people. Connect with readers who will actually read your book. Connect with other authors that write similar things. Don’t blast the masses. And when you do give that book away, ask for a review in exchange.
  5. And don’t make every one of your tweets be about you or your book. That’s just plain annoying. This suggestion has nothing to do with our topic, but my advice is also free. 😉

Supply and demand, folks. It’s simple economics.

HERE’S WHAT I WANT TO KNOW FROM YOU: How many books are in your TBR pile? How much do you spend on books each month? Are you more likely to read something that you purchased or got for free? What would you add or take away from my list?

Lisa Godfrees

Lisa Godfrees

Swashbuckling pirate adventure, anyone?

Kathrese full

Kathrese McKee, author of Mardan’s Mark

Nickname: No nickname
Genre: YA speculative fiction
Personal Philosophy: God gave us language to give Him glory.
Fave Scripture (& why): Proverbs 27:19 The way you live your life reflects what’s in your heart.
Fave Quote: There’s only one God, Ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that. — Captain America
In high school I was a… book nerd and band geek.
yearbook photo

Kathrese – Freshman in college

Kathrese’s novel, Mardan’s Mark was released around Christmas. It has everything anyone could want in a book – great writing, a fantastic cast, pirates, princesses, adventure, romance, and danger. 

Mardan-Mark-Sml

In this coming of age fantasy, seventeen-year-old Princess Srilani is prepared to die for her country, but she has to live long enough to make sure the heir survives.

After pirates abduct Srilani and her brother and sisters, they are stranded across the Great Gulf and far behind enemy lines. She convinces Aldan, the pirate captain’s slave, and his two brother slaves to share their perilous journey home.

These unlikely allies set out on a quest of heroes — against cutthroat pirates, merciless priests, and countless soldiers — to return the heir to his kingdom, but will coming home mean the end of happiness for Srilani?

Hi Kathrese! Whom did you have in mind when you wrote Mardan’s Mark?

I initially wrote Mardan’s Mark for my four children, but it was my fifteen-year-old daughter who kept the pressure on to finish the first book and keep going. I also wrote it for my thirteen-year-old son because there aren’t enough Young Adult novels written with boys in mind.

Can I get an amen, Tim Akers? 😉

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I want readers to have great memories of good times spent within the pages of my book, to remember the characters and how they overcame their troubles, and to understand God just a little better at the end of the story than when they began.

Which character is most like you and why?

Srilani because she loves to learn. In today’s world, she would be a nerd at school with her nose in a book until it was time to practice some other skill. She’s driven to master whatever skill is necessary to do her “job” as princess. That’s me. I think I have to be able to do it all myself, and it’s very hard for me to delegate responsibilities.

If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which one would it be and what would you do together?

I would choose Linus, and I would just follow him around for a week, pestering him with questions. He’s the most elusive character to get to know, even though I created him.

Ha! Linus is mysterious because he is so quiet. I really liked him a lot, but I think my favorite was Sam. 🙂

Thanks, Kathrese!

You can connect with Kathrese on her website, and on Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

GIVEAWAY: Kathrese is giving an ecopy to one lucky reader. Comment here to be entered in the drawing, and check out my blog on Monday for a second chance to win. 

TELL US: Your favorite pirate book or movie.

Marissa Shrock: author of the YA dystopian The First Principle

Marissa Shrock Headshot

SLAM BOOK SIGN-IN

Nickname: Mar, HaHa
Genre: Young Adult
Personal Philosophy: Trust God always.
Fave Scripture (& why): Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
This verse is my favorite because waiting on God is an important lesson I’ve had to learn. Though I didn’t have to wait as long as some to be published, I’m having to wait much longer than I ever imagined for God to bring the right man into my life to be my husband. When nothing seems to be happening, this verse reminds me I’m waiting on God to work things out in his time.
Fave Quote: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’” Ronald Reagan
In high school I was a…music nerd. I played the piano, sang in show choir, had roles in musicals, and performed in a chamber music ensemble.
Marissa in high school

Marissa in high school

Thanks for signing in, Marissa!

I really enjoyed The First Principle and I’m excited to introduce it and you to our readers. From the back of the book:

In the not-too-distant future, the United Regions of America has formed. Governors hold territories instead of states, and while Washington, DC, is gone, the government has more control than ever before. For fifteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins, the daughter of a governor, this is life as usual. High school seems pretty much the same–until one day, that controlling power steps right through the door during study hall.
When Vivica speaks out to defend her pregnant friend against the harsh treatment of Population Management Officer Marina Ward, she has no idea she’s sowing the seeds of a revolution in her own life. But it isn’t long before she discovers her own illegal pregnancy. Now she has to decide whether to get the mandatory abortion–or follow her heart, try to keep the baby, and possibly ruin her mother’s chances at becoming president.

FirstPrinciplecover

LG: Whom did you have in mind when you wrote The First Principle?

MS: My target audience is teenage girls who enjoy dystopian fiction with strong female protagonists.

LG: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

MS: While I hope they enjoy and remember the story, I ultimately hope they recognize Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

LG: Which character is most like you and why?

MS: In some ways Vivica is like me, though I’m not as tough or as smart as she is. Like me, she tries to hide her feelings but isn’t always successful.

LG: If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which one would it be and what would you do together?

MS: I’d meet Vivica, and I’d have her teach me some of her computer skills. I don’t need to know how to be a hacker like she is, but maybe she could help me be a bit more tech savvy.

Marissa – thanks so much for taking the time out to come by and talk to us today. I’m looking forward to the sequel to The First Principle

HEAD OVER TO MY BLOG TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MARISSA, CATCH AN EXCERPT FROM HER NOVEL, AND ENTER TO WIN A FREE COPY!

FOR OUR READERS: Is a book that talks about abortion and teenage pregnancy too gritty for you? Do you think any subjects should be off-limits for Christian fiction?