I Promise You Won't Learn A Thing From This Blog

The official blog for author Ashley Chappell. Check back every week for a few laughs at my expense or, if you know the love-hate process that is writing, commiseration.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dust to Dust Cover Reveal!

Everyone say hello to S.P. Cervantes! You may already know S.P. from her Secrets of Shadow Hill Series (Always and Forever, The Prophecy), but she's stopping by today to let me reveal the beautiful book cover for her latest book. Do yourself a favor and look for Dust to Dust this spring :-)

Title: Dust to Dust (A Broken Fairy Tale)
Age group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover designer: Kelly Walker

If faced with your worst fear, what would you do? Would you run or would you fight?

Camryn Hamilton will fight.

A thirty-something mother of two, Camryn appears to have it all: a husband, plenty of money, and children she adores. When she returns home to spend Christmas with her family, her perfect world she has created begins to crumble, thrusting her face to face with the only man who truly knows her.

Holden Patrick will fight harder.

A powerful, handsome attorney, Holden left town after his adoptive parents’ death. In his time away he almost managed to forget the girl who ran away with his heart. At least until a turn of fate brought him back to Mantoloking, and back to Camryn.

But are they willing to fight for each other?

Faced with a tragic past that they both wanted to forget, they struggle to protect their hearts from being broken again. Will their love be enough to get them through another tragedy, or will they close themselves off and run away again?

About the Author:

S.P Cervantes lives in Orange County, California with
her loving husband and three children, where she is a teacher.
She enjoys spending time with her family, writing, and reading, but is always thinking of an idea for her next novel.

S.P. Cervantes graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from California State University Fullerton, and has a Master’s Degree in Education.

S.P. Cervantes recently has completed the second novel in the Secrets of Shadow Hill Series, Secrets of Shadow Hill: Prophecy, and is currently writing the third novel in this exciting series.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Tales From My Pub Sister

The Unstoppable Elizabeth!
Don't get too excited - this post doesn't come stocked with beer (unless you hang around for the after-party). Elizabeth Seckman is in fact the same charming lady and talented author who convinced me to go the dual publishing house route and submit a novel that didn't fit with my current publisher to World Castle. Thanks to her encouragement - and Elizabeth is one heck of a cheerleader - we now get to be publishing house sisters, along with the fantastic Celeste Holloway and so many other talented writers.

And I would be totally remiss if I didn't mention she's kind of my hero, too :-) If successfully juggling writing, mothering, wifing (yes, I'm making those verbs), blogging, sports-momming, networking, providing writer support, and marketing were an Olympic event, Elizabeth would bring home the gold. So I was thrilled when she wanted to share her journey into publishing on my blog. Stick around to the end; there's also a giveaway chance for a hand-crafted pixie by PK Hrezo!


Elizabeth's Tale:

I figured a stop by your blog was a good place to discuss why I went small pub, considering we are now publishing house sisters and all.

Writing for me started as therapy. In 2005, my father-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia; my brother-in-law was diagnosed with chronic and possibly fatal pneumonia (he's special needs, profoundly mentally handicapped); my father was diagnosed with kidney cancer; and my brother was diagnosed with angiosarcoma. Oh, and my youngest baby went off to kindergarten.

Life felt bleak. Like there was nothing to look forward to; everything in life was a loss.

My sister's birthday approached, and I wanted to get her something special. After much thought, I sent an email to her favorite writer, Dixie Browning, and requested an autographed book. Dixie sent the book, accompanied by the kindest letter. When I gave my sister her gift, she cried happy tears.

I sent Dixie a thank you card and mentioned I once wanted to be a writer. She sent a note back and asked why I would give up on a dream...just go write.

I did. And it felt great. It was like therapy on a page. Dixie offered to read a few pages, so I took her up on it. She sent me back a letter that said something like this: Elizabeth, I have no doubt you can make it as a writer, but be warned. Writing is a big business. It's all about numbers and sales, and I warn you, it can kill the joy of it. I got so sick of hearing, add more sex, less humor. I quit and I will never write again.

And she hasn't. No amount of prodding seems to be able to make her.

Faced with this bit of wisdom, I decided to write for me. Plotting a story was a much more comforting way to fall asleep at night rather than wondering who might not be with us in 2002.

I wrote one story. Then another. And another. I'd finish and stick them in a manilla envelope and toss them on a shelf. 

Then one day, my flash drive got corrupted. I took it to my dad. He recovered my story putting it on a CD labelled, "Liz's Trash Novel". When he gave it to me, he said, "This is good, why don't you publish it?"

Because. Publishing can suck. Publishing takes a dream and beats the hell out of you with it.

Ten years later, I was perusing the net and I happened across Karen Fuller, my publisher's bio. In it she said she liked beer and NASCAR. I felt like I knew her. I mean, being from West Virginia I'm used to people who like beer and NASCAR. The way I figured it, Ms. Fuller must be good people.

So, I sent a query and a full and forgot all about it.

Then one morning I got an email..."Loved your story. I'd like to offer you a contract. Call me."

I did call and I loved Karen from the get-go. She is honest, sincere, patient, and hard working. World Castle Publishing is her life's dream and she treats her writers more like co-workers than employees. I like it there.

People ask me if I am querying an agent or going after bigger contracts.

Answer is...no decision in my life was ever based on money or power. I will never sacrifice peace of mind or the joys of my life to add more dollar signs to my account or prestige to my name.

Cause you know what they say...in the end...you can't take that with you.

Fate Intended is the third book in the Coulter Men Series.  Trip is the last of the Coulter sons to find love. He’s a handsome man with all the skills a young spy needs to succeed. But when it comes to love, he misses the target. Jane is a sweet beauty who may or may not be wanted for murder. She’s hiding out as a cleaning lady when chance brings her and Trip together. It looks like a happily ever after is in the cross hairs until reality tries to destroy what fate has intended.

Elizabeth Seckman is a simple chick with a simple dream…to write stories people want to read.
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Friday, January 17, 2014

How the Brits Bag Literary Agents.... Really!

I think the wires keep her head on.
My guest today is the lovely Alex Tanner from all the way across the pond! Alex writes gritty psychological fiction including the recent post-apocalyptic PARADISE INCOMING, the dark short COFFEE, and the upcoming TEQUILA BARTENDER. She also happens to be one of my favorite smartasses in this upper hemisphere and she's sharing her best 'tips' on how to sell your book to an agent/publisher.

I'd really like to emphasize again that Alex hails from the UK. Why? Because I'm also daring all of my American readers to try NOT reading this in a bad English accent now :-)


The Snarknado Guide to Query Letters

If you’ve written a million letters to agents or publishers, but keep getting ignored or rejected, worry not. The time of your success starts now. Read this guide and if you don’t get published within a week I will eat a selfie of Justin Beiber.

1. It’s very important that you write your letter on My Little Pony paper in gold glitter pen. Because nobody embodies ‘self respect’ like a Brony.  

2. Start your letter with ‘hey bro’, because agents and publishers love to be called bro. If you want to sweeten the pot further, sketch two hands doing a little fist bump in the corner. 

3. If you don’t have a book yet, just use someone else’s. Preferably choose a dead author’s work, like Shakespeare, he can’t sue. 

4. Don’t bother laying out the whole story. They’ll figure it out when they read it anyway.  

5. Spell everything wrong. I mean it. Are you in America? Use British spelling, they’ll love it! Better yet, switch your font to Chinese. They’ll love trying to translate it. 

6. If you’re hot be sure to attach a bathroom selfie where you ‘accidentally’ forgot that pants existed. If you’re hairy chested, shave ‘publish me!’ into your chest. 

7. Throw random punctuation at that letter like you’d throw confetti at a bride. It! Will, get; you-noticed? Trust me IMMA RITER. 

8. Attach a letter from your mom encouraging the publishers to go ahead with your proposal. If she thinks you’re awesome then you must be awesome, right? 

9. Once you’ve sent your letter, send an hourly email to find out how you did. Make sure you phone right after too, just in case. 

10. If you get rejected, send the publisher continuous Vines of you sobbing into a bowl of potato chips until they change their mind.

Okay perhaps not. Think of this as a ‘what not to do in the name of all that is holy’. If you see someone about to follow this guide, sit them in a corner and feed them chocolate until they slip into a coma.

It’s for their own good.

But hopefully, if you’ve been slaving away writing letters and proposals with no luck, this at least made you smile!

You can buy my debut novel Paradise Incoming at Amazon, or from my blog over at www.thegeekmemoirs.com

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cover Reveal for Carrie Butler's HONESTY!

One of the things I love best about author Carrie Butler is that just when she's got me hooked into waiting for my next Wallace fix, she gives me a little gift of his equally smokin' twin brother. Check out this halfsie release coming out in March!

Honesty (Mark of Nexus #2.5)

Category: New Adult  Genre: Urban Fantasy
Book Description:
Note: This title is best enjoyed after Strength (Mark of Nexus #1) and Courage (Mark of Nexus #2). Cole Blake is more than just a roguish ladies’ man. He’s also a dedicated worker—so dedicated, in fact, that he’s willing to blackmail his boss with a falsified sex tape in order to keep his job. And his proactive efforts don’t end there. After hours, he uses his Dynari abilities to moonlight as a vigilante, keeping his neighborhood safe from drunks, dealers, and would-be thieves. Until a mistake stops him dead in his super-accelerated tracks. Now burdened with the closest thing he’s ever had to a conscience, Cole struggles to justify his once-reckless actions. It’d be all too easy to give in to his darker impulses, especially with ERA making dangerous advances toward their goal of revolution, but embracing that hatred could jeopardize the few relationships he actually cares about—including his pursuit of the saintly Rachel Ranford. No, in order to keep everyone safe, he’ll have to come clean about his warring compulsions and ask for help... before his dark side takes over.

Click here to read the first (unedited) chapter of HONESTY!
COMING MARCH of 2014  Want to learn more about HONESTY? Check out its book page!


Friday, December 13, 2013

MG Review: 'Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull'

As it is late while I start to write this review, let me preface this post with an apology and also with gratitude. My mind rises and sets with the sun, so this late post has been saved by my trusty online editor: I use Grammarly's plagiarism online checker because I am nowhere near as bright after dark as I'd like to think I am. 

But this post isn't about me. It's about a book you should be reading, and then telling your friends that they should be reading, because that's what true book lovers do.

If you, like me, are tempted every time you see a world map to take a Sharpie and scrawl "Here be Dragons" over the ocean expanses, then author James Raney has a series for you. I just finished Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull which is a sequel to Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, and this is one book that I'll happily re-read simply for joy in the masterful prose with which is was written. The narrative voice is reminiscent of 19th Century London (which the author manages to make work very well even in a book for younger readers), and the main characters can be little darlings and little wankers all upon the same page which makes for a fantastic and fun read. Even at their most mischievous Jim and his friends are characters to whom any child can relate and hopefully learn to emulate.

Their adventures lead them against pirates and magic (in which a young reader learns that taking shortcuts always comes with a heavy price), and at the heart of all of their deeds is the lesson that friendship, family, and integrity always trump material gain. Even better, in addition to that mix is a brilliant and colorful cast of supporting characters ranging from enchanted talking animals to dragons and mermen.

Simply put, this book is a must read whether you are 8 or 88.

If you now find yourself wondering now who exactly are the Pirates of the Black Skull, you may prefer to first start by acquainting yourself with the King of Thieves. This diabolical criminal was the first monster young Jim Morgan was forced to face, after all.

To connect with the author, find James Raney on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, November 15, 2013

HOT OFF THE PRESS! "Moonless" by Crystal Collier

Football season, schmootball season! Don't people realize that fall is also book release season? I'm thrilled to pieces to get to host another one of this season's awesome new books on the blog today. What do you get when you cross Supernatural with Jane Eyre? You get the killer paranormal historical romance "Moonless" by fellow author (and fellow cheese fiend!) Crystal Collier. Crystal was kind enough to share the top ten fantasy novels that most influenced her writing, so be sure to check them out at the end! I think I found a few new titles to add to my reading list ;-)

This book only released this week and critics are pouring love for this story already, calling it "...powerful, compelling, packed with soul," and that it "...transports us to a time of elegance and mixes in supernatural splendor that gives goosebumps." Are you hooked yet? 

From the book cover:

Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

So what are you waiting for? It might be cold outside, but this is just the thing to warm you back up so go grab yourself a copy, turn down the football, and treat yourself to a romantic fantasy unlike any you've ever read!


Top Ten Fantasy Books that Have Influenced Crystal's Writing

10. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White: It's rare I read a book with so much personality packed into its pages. I aspire to write a book with this much spunk.

9. Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck: Foreign backdrops, a new culture, even some historical content, I LOVED this book. Colleen tutored me in character relationships.

8. The Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis: This book set my mind on fire with cross-world travel an the importance of world building--especially in the real world.

7. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: If you want to know how to get 'er done as far as plot goes, you can't have a better pattern. Action takes a front seat. And the dialog? Whew!

6. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle: Again cross-world travel, but the importance of familial relationships really shines through.

5. Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede: A whole education on taking classic fairytales and molding your own world out of it. I still marvel about the mechanics of the Enchanted Forest.

4. Unenchanted by Chanda Hahn: A clever meshing of the Grimms tales and the real world, I adored how Chanda built relationships.

3. My Friend the Monster by Clyde Robert Bulla: The first story I ever read where a monster could be a good guy, this story left a lasting impression.

2. Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin: Comedy meets fantasy. This series was my own brand of cheese merged with my first reading love.

1. The Windrose Chronicles by Barbara Hambly: Merge fantasy, technology and complex world building with an anti-hero, and you've got magic. This was the first time I saw THE bad guy (no questions asked) suddenly become the hero. Seriously, such a powerful transition that it's the only entire series I've read twice.

Crystal Collier, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. 

You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Buy MOONLESS HERE or add it on Goodreads.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Dragonfly Warrior by Author Jay Noel

I always love getting to participate in cover reveals for new books, but this is one that I'm particularly excited about. First of all, I'm immediately won over by the title because I'm kinda-sorta-totally obsessed with all things dragonfly (even if only vaguely related!). But even without the incredibly awesome title, this one is an eclectic and entirely unique steampunk novel that I've been waiting to read from the moment I read the description. Unfortunately, I still have to wait two months from tomorrow until this little beauty comes out! At least in the meantime I can ogle the BEAUTIFUL original artwork :-)

Check out the book information below and don't forget to leave a comment to tell Jay what you think!

Dragonfly Warrior Blurb:

The Mechanica Wars: Savage Machines Are Afoot...

At the age of sixteen, Kanze Zenjiro's bloody footprints mark the bodies of those who stood in his way to protect the throne of Nihon. Now, the tyrannical Iberian Empire is bent on destroying his kingdom, and they send their steam-powered giants and iron spiders against him.

Zen embarks on a quest that takes him on the most dangerous journey of his life. To succeed, Zen must live up to his nickname, the Dragonfly Warrior, and kill all his enemies with only a sword and a pair of six-guns. He is called upon to somehow survive a test of faith and loyalty in a world so cruel and merciless, it borders on madness.

Dragonfly Warrior is a steampunk adventure like no other. It's a dynamic mix of Asian and European mythology, the Wild West, martial arts, traditional fantasy, and high powered steam action that will keep you turning the pages.

Dragonfly Warrior is the first book of The Mechanica Wars, and will debut on January 6, 2014.

Author Bio:

After doing some freelance writing and editing for more than a dozen years, Jay decided to stop procrastinating and pursue his dream of being a novelist. He's been blogging for over eight years, and even had a comedy podcast syndicated all over the internet. All of that was fun, but all the steampunk-inspired stories in his head just wouldn't leave him alone. Jay spends his days working in medical sales, but he can be found toiling over his laptop late at night when all is quiet.

He draws inspiration from all over: H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, and Isaac Asimov.

And Jay loves cookies.

Connect with Jay!

Thanks for visiting, Jay!