Friday, May 25, 2012

Guest Blogger M. Pax: Misadventures of a City Gal in the Wilderness

I'm thrilled to be hosting my friend M. Pax today as part of her blog tour to promote her new book The Backworlds.  If you haven't already checked out the Backworlds, don't wait any longer! It's a wonderful book and Mary is a great writer. Thank you for being here, Mary!

Misadventures of a City Gal in the Wilderness

By origin, I’m an East Coast city gal. I grew up in Western New York near the border of Canada. I lived many years in New York City and Washington, DC.

Then I met the Husband Unit whose origins are in Colorado. We moved out west to Oregon. A decision I don’t ever regret. Portland is still a city, but once you leave the urban boundaries … well, I was in shock the first couple of years.

Places where there aren’t any people? Roads without pavement and cars? Trees taller than a skyscraper? Sea lions, otters, bald eagles, elk, and antelope. Seriously? I thought antelope lived in Africa. Now that Home on the Range song makes sense.

We moved to Central Oregon four years ago. The wilderness starts two blocks to the left. Honest. I’m talking about vast stretches of sage and brush, and few signs of civilization.

I volunteer at an observatory every summer, which is thirty miles east of town. Really out in nowhereville. A place where there are no other cars on the road. Where you can see no other people. There are no street lights. Places that are so quiet (because there are no other people), you can hear the Earth hum.

One night up at the observatory, we had a troop of boy scouts. Two of the boys forgot their flashlight, so I volunteered to walk them back to their tent. After all, it was only across the road. STUPID! City people should never walk around in the wilderness and especially not in the dark. I couldn’t find my way back … yeah, just across the road. The trees blocked the lights from the observatory, and I quickly got turned around. I knocked on a camper’s tent and asked for help. They kindly walked me to the outhouse. From there I could find the observatory.

Last year (my 4th summer at the observatory), we were hanging out in the residence as usual. It was a cloudy night, so we never set up. We had no visitors. No chance of seeing a star. I’ve walked between the manager’s house and the parking lot hundreds of times and it’s maybe 30 yards at the most.

Because of the cloud cover, there was no moonlight, no starlight. You have no idea just how dark that is. My flashlight was in the car with the rest of my gear. Doing me no good. I thought I was walking straight. Yeah, straight into a tree. Ow. Then I found myself in bramble. In desperation, I beeped my car. It was amazing to me how far off course I was in just a few steps. Dark like that is really disorienting.

Have you had any wilderness misadventures?

The Backworlds After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available as an ebook from: Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks

Free on Smashwords & Feedbooks. Will be free on Amazon in a few weeks.

Sign up for M. Pax’s newsletter to be notified the moment The Backworlds goes FREE on Amazon, and when it becomes available from other retailers.

About the author:
M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, and at Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Doing the Happy Dance

I took an unplanned break from blogging the past few weeks because I got wrapped up in working on revising and editing my novel Polar Night. This week, thanks in huge part to my trusted editing partner, I actually finished the final draft! So, like the kitty pictured above, I've been doing the happy dance in spite of my extremely limited dancing skills. It feels so good to be able to call my novel a finished manuscript instead of a work in progress!

I've now started dipping my toes into the query letter waters and trying to learn everything I can about the whole process. All I can say to that is yikes! I knew this would be intimidating, but it's starting to feel like writing a good query letter is going to be significantly harder than writing the novel itself. Each time I've started a letter I haven't made it past the first few lines before I just delete the whole thing and send it to the recycle bin.

But, I'm going to just take a deep breath and keep working on it, and I know eventually I'll have a letter I feel is ready to send out. I hope so, anyway!

I've also been catching up on some great books this month after being too swamped in April to do much reading at all. I just wanted to give a shout-out to three fantastic books I discovered because of the A-Z Challenge.

One of the best things about blogging to me has been the opportunity to meet so many excellent writers I might not have discovered otherwise. I've been making great use of my Kindle because of them! If you haven't already checked out these three books, I highly recommend them.

Losing Beauty by Johanna Garth

Johanna blogs at Losing Sanity, and her book is an intriguing and modern take on Greek mythology. This is Johanna's debut novel and I will be looking forward to more from her!

Provex City by Michael Pierce

Provex City is the first novel in Michael's Lorne Family Vault Series and I'm already anxious to read more of the series. The artwork alone is fantastic! Michael has a great blog at Michael Pierce Books.

Ripper, My Love by Glynis Smy

I first discovered Glynis' blog last year sometime, but it was one I unintentionally lost track of until finding it again during last month's challenge. I'm so glad I did, because I learned of Ripper, My Love as a result. A blend of historical fiction and suspense, set in Jack the Ripper's Whitechapel? That's a can't miss as far as I'm concerned. :D

Huge kudos to all of these great writers! I'm inspired by their journeys and I hope to someday be joining them in the publishing world now that I have my first novel under my belt.

I'm looking forward to catching up with my blog reading while I continue to do my happy dancing over the weekend.

Happy Friday to all, and I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead. :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

A-Z Reflections and Backworlds Launch Party

The A-Z in April hosts have asked participants to share reflections on this year's challenge, and there is a linky list here if you are interested in signing up and sharing your thoughts. When I was thinking back on last month, I realized I don't have much to say, except that I really enjoyed the challenge once again and had a great time participating. I'm very glad I signed up for the challenge for a second year.

The biggest difference between this year and last for me was that I had a terrible time keeping up with visiting and commenting on other blogs. At first I felt frustrated by that, but then I realized the main reason for my trouble was that I had a core of blogger friends I wanted to be sure to visit and read regularly. Last year, I had barely met any bloggers when I did the April challenge, so I was able to hop through the list and keep up without much difficulty.

It was a wonderful feeling to realize I now had great blogger buddies that I wanted to be sure I kept tabs on during this year's challenge. And, it was a lot of fun to go through the April craziness again with bloggers I met last year. While I would have loved to have been able to visit more blogs, it felt great to know I'd managed to maintain relationships with friends I met last April, and those I've met since.

So thanks again to A-Z founder Arlee Bird for coming up with this fantastic idea, and thanks as well to all the wonderful A-Z Challenge hosts. It was another great time! :)

I'm also really excited to be participating in the launch party for The Backworlds, by my friend M.Pax. Congratulations to Mary!!

Here is the scoop on this exciting new story: 

The Backworlds is here!

The first story in the Backworlds series by M. Pax. A vision of how humanity might colonize the galaxy some day in the distant future.

The Backworlds
After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks
Other links to more outlets can be found at either Wistful Nebulae or MPax

The Backworlds is an ebook and a free read. All formats can be found at Smashwords and Feedbooks.

I read Mary's Semper Audacia last year, as well as some of her short stories, and thought all of her work was excellent. I've no doubt The Backworlds will be just as fantastic, as Mary has an amazing imagination, and the worlds she takes her readers to are always something special. 

So this is a busy day here in the blogosphere, and it's fun to jump back in with both feet after resting up a bit after the challenge. Today's post is my 200th since I started this blog, something that is most likely only exciting to me! But when I started this I wasn't sure if I'd make it to my second post, so it brought a big smile to my face to realize that this was going to be number 200. :)

Thanks again to the A-Z Challenge hosts and to all my fabulous blogger buddies who made the challenge so much fun, and huge kudos to Mary on the launch of her new book! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group and Fractured Shout-Out

I wasn't sure if I was going to participate in this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as always by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh, because I was feeling burned out after the A-Z Challenge. But I managed to find myself with a new insecurity recently, so I thought this group would be the perfect place to ask about it.

I am nearly finished with the final draft of my WIP Polar Night, and I've started thinking about publishing options and the process of sending out query letters, etc. While reading about this process, it dawned on me that I really have no clue what the genre of my story is.

It's a suspense thriller, but it also has a significant supernatural element. The story takes place in the "real" world and the main character is a police detective, so in some ways it would be considered crime fiction. But there is one character with a supernatural or paranormal quality. I really don't feel like it is a paranormal story but, as I said, the supernatural aspect of this one character is significant, and the character is central to the story. When I think about it, the history and behavior of this character also bring elements of horror to the novel.

Once I started mulling over this issue, I immediately became convinced that there is no way I will ever be able to get the book published because I don't think it fits into one specific genre. One minute I am feeling very enthusiastic and positive about the story, and the next I'm convinced that I should toss it in the trash because it will never be marketable.

I am curious to hear opinions on this issue. Do you think it is necessary for a story to fit neatly into a genre category? Do you think a mash-up of two or more genres is a possibility?

Part of me feels that if I've done a good job on the story I can find an audience for it regardless of what genre it is or isn't. But then there is also a part that is whispering in my ear that I've made a terrible mess and should just throw in the towel. I'm not going to listen to that whispering, but I do wish it would shut up!

Thanks as always to Alex for hosting this great group!

I also wanted to give a shout-out to my buddy Susan Oloier and her book Fractured, which is officially released today! I had the good fortune to get to know Susan during the A-Z Challenge, and I totally loved her 80s-themed challenge since I will always be an 80s girl at heart. I read her collection of childhood stories, "My Life As A Misfit," last month and really enjoyed it, so I know Fractured will be great as well. Congratulations to Susan!!