Okay, I've dusted off the big guns. This contest just went nuclear.
Ho, ho, ho! I'm giving away one $50 Amazon Gift Card. That's fifty whole bucks you can spend on friends and family. 'Cause the Holidays are a time to think about others. Right? YEAH RIGHT! Use the money to sweeten up your Kindle, trade it in for 5000 pennies, or buy yourself somethin' nice (like Rogue's Curse, for example. I'm just saying…)
My editor for Rogue's Curse, Adrien-Luc Sanders is putting up most of the jack (Visit his blog here). Why are we doing this? Because both of us believe in the book and want you to buy it. And…well, you know…we like the attention.
Entering the contest is easy. We want to give away this money, so qualifying requires minimal effort on your part:
STEP ONE: If you haven't already, connect with me on one of these social sites (the links will take you there):
This is my second contest. Yes, Rogue's Curse is available for download at Lyrical Press and Amazon.com, but I still have more e-copies to give away. Rogue's Curse takes place 2000 years after the Rapture, in the monarchial kingdom of Western Beatrice. Aside from soaring mortality rates and an abnormally high clovort population, it's not a bad place to live. Opportunities abound. Here are a few:
1) The King's Royal Harem — "Seeking females with unusual physical ailments to fit King Perlezod's sexual appetites. Multiple nipples a plus! Inquire at the palace gates. Ask for Madam Vaginaberry."
2) Capped Rock Island — "The mental facility on Capped Rock seeks qualified medical professionals to service its ever-growing population. Benefits include pension plan, hazard pay, and access to the best meds in the kingdom. Note: Applicants sail to the island at their own risk."
Here's how to enter the contest:
STEP ONE: Comment on this post by finishing the sentence: "If I was born 2000 years after the Rapture, I would…"
STEP TWO: "Follow" or "Like" me on at least one of these:
If you already do, then you've already completed this step.
That's it! Easy, right?
On Tuesday morning, November 2nd, I'll throw all your names into a blender with ice and strawberry powder, gulp it down, wait, and see what name pops out later that night. It should be a lovely experience. If you win, tell me your choice of eBook format and I'll email it to you.
Where do the best characters come from? Sometimes they wander into Starbucks while you're sitting in the corner, sucking down powdered bean and typing your first draft. They're muse, plopped onto your lap like gift baskets from God. They hassle the baristas, complain about the prices, fly into fits when their order isn't perfect. They come in whistling bad 80's songs, smelling of expired milk. They wear XXL sweatpants that burst at the seams, with the word "Love" stretched across both butt cheeks. They lay waste to the Free Samples table, draining Dixie cups filled with whipped barbacoa marmalade frap-caps—taking down six before coming up for air. Then they smile at you with their white frap mustaches. And all you can think is "God bless my local Starbucks!"
But maybe you don't have a Starbucks within walking distance. That's okay. You will eventually. The good news is you don't have to leave home. Outside the bewitching green glow of the caffeine limelight, a reservoir of deep characterization awaits you in your living room. My novel Rogue's Curse (available now!) leans heavily on character quirks. What do I do when Starbucks is closed and I need to add depth to my prince, my rogue or my emaciated enchantress?
I turn on the television.
If you frequent this blog, you're aware of my frightening dependency on VH1 and shady reality shows—specifically, Cops and To Catch a Predator. Why? Because you won't find better characters anywhere else. In Cops, it's the drunk driver, the domestic disturber, the "that's not mine" guy; in To Catch a Predator, it's the busted schoolteacher, family man, or creepy guy with bedroom eyes. When Mr. Police Officer pulls a dude over, or when Chris Hanson emerges from behind the felt curtain, the cameras reveal the actual person within. Whatever bravado or acting skill the criminal has is wiped clean, and what remains is pure instinct. The facial expressions, the immediate responses— the audience sees what words form when a guilty man shuffles off his inner filter. "I found six pounds of leaf in the backseat of your Bonneville," says Officer Jones. "That's not mine," replies the perp. Beautiful.
Watch the perp's reaction when Officer Jones bends him over the trunk and cuffs him. Note the rapid eye movement as the criminal tries to come up with something better than "It belongs to a friend." His face contorts; what's going through his mind? Is he thinking about jail, his family? What made him steal the car, crank up the Skynard, and cruise the camino for chicks? Where did he get that tat, his long hair, his pockmarked cheeks and that sweet, sweet 1981 Chrysler Lebaron?
In To Catch a Predator, the host sets them up with his questions: "Why did you come here today?"and "Did you bring alcohol?" Again, watch the eyes. Try this exercise: TiVo or YouTube a clip of this show. Power up your laptop and open a blank text document.
1) When the host emerges from behind the curtain and says, "How are you?" or "Did you have trouble finding the place?" press pause.
2) Put yourself in Mr. Perv's shoes. Role-play. You're pinned down, exposed. Now type your response. This isn't the person you came to see; he's much taller. Think fast! You have to answer Chris Hanson while still looking guiltless.
3) Unpause. Note the dude's response, calm and nonchalant, betraying just a hint of apprehension. He's been in this situation before; he's used to answering tough questions. Take notes as the host strikes up a conversation. Type out your own answers. At the same time, look for some avenue of escape, just keep typing. Don't stop.
4) When the host says these words, "You're free to walk out that door," stop the show.
Now, 5) Put your protagonist(s) into the hot seat. Repeat this exercise with your characters walking into the decoy house or being handcuffed by the cop. How does he/she react? What's at stake? The hot seat is the great equalizer. It doesn't matter if your protagonist is a truck driver from Tucson or a zombie wet nurse; everyone shows a new level of personality when cornered.
Quirks. TV is full of them. You don't have to sit at Starbucks and wait for them to order a cup of coffee; you just have to ogle the pretty colors on your television screen until your brain softens like a bruised peach.
My pet clovort's name is Squirreljaw. I call him that because he can fit twenty squirrels in his— Um, I mean because he's cute.
When the "Name Your Pet Clovort" contest ended last night, Squirreljaw was hungry. He's always hungry. He laughed at all eight entries: Minnie, Kitty, Tinnell, Wilbur, Sylvester, George, Beklin, and Dimeadip.
I let Squirreljaw pick the winner.
I collected eight squirrels from the traps in my backyard, one for each entry. There were actually fifteen (to cover any late entries), but we only needed eight. I wrote one clovort name on the back of each squirrel with a Sharpie, then brought them to Squirreljaw's shed and let them loose.
Squirreljaw can be a picky eater. He giggled at Dimeadip for a long time and played Animal Autopsy with Sylvester, but he didn't eat them. I yelled at Squirreljaw to stop playing with his food. Squirreljaw sighed, picked up Beklin by the tail and gulped down a winner.
And that means Janelle gets the prize! To claim it, tell me where to mail the squirrel's remains and I'll send them via UPS Overnight.
Thanks all for playing! I'll have a new contest coming up soon.
I interviewed Liz Borino for a variety of reasons:
a) Her blog is unique. She posts each entry from the POV of a fictional character. I like that.
b) She's a talented writer.
c) She actually bought (and read) my novel, Rogue's Curse. And I always take care of my readers.
So here is Liz Borino…
You have a unique and fun approach to blogging. You let your characters post. What's that about?
When I completed my manuscript, I began researching online about the importance of platforms to selling work and most authors have a blog and that was something I was interested in. So, I started brainstorming ways to stand out. There’re very few blogs like mine. Also, the way the blog is set up allows for minor characters to be more fleshed out, as well as getting back story I couldn’t include in the book.
How is your blog related to your novel?
My blog is written by my characters. It allows for everyone to have a voice. One of my favorite things to do with the blog is to give two perspectives to the same scene. For example, how does Chris view his brother’s alcoholism versus how Matt views it? These things weigh heavily on how the audience understands the characters.
The other good thing about this blog is it gives a forum for other authors and later books to follow the same format.
What is your novel about? Tell us about it.
Expectations is about the struggle to live our own lives in spite of family expectations. All three main characters deal with overbearing fathers. Twins, Matt and Chris, are constantly seeking their wealthy father’s approval and get their trust funds. Matt is required to work at an East Coast marketing company and merge with his father’s West Coast company. Chris must marry and have a son. Matt hates his job and turns to alcohol, while Chris’s love for Aiden prevents him from easily fulfilling his father’s wishes. Aiden was disowned at 17 when he chose a life of dance over taking over the family farm in Ireland. The novel follows the young men through their trials and self-discovery.
Any funny stories about Expectations?
Yes, originally, Aiden’s name was Shane, the same as my cousin. As I was writing the love scene between him and Chris I realized Shane’s Catholic parents might not be too happy about that. So when the novel was finished, I went back and changed his name to Aiden.
Talk about your favorite character in your blog postings or your novel.
This is the toughest question for me. It’s like picking your favorite child. I guess I would have to say Chris because he gives himself so fully to Aiden when they get together and that strength helps Aiden to open up as well.
What are some of your favorite works of fiction?
A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham is my all time favorite book. Actually Aiden was based on Bobby from that book.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is up there as well. It’s a beautiful book about childhood choices and how they affect us later in life.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is also amazing, though long. I’ve loved that story since I was nine years old.
Boxers or briefs?
Oh God, boxers every time. If a guy is wearing briefs I can only assume he’s too uptight to deal with my writer quirkiness.
What are your long term writing goals?
To inspire change in people’s life. I know that each person affected has the power to change the world at large. More specifically, I suppose making a living on my writing, the bulk of which comes from novel sales.
What is your favorite line from Shakespeare?
“To thy own self be true.”
Finish this: "Liz Borino is in my favorite Cops episode. No, she's not one of the police. Liz is that girl who ____."
First of all, I’d never be one of the police. I’d be girl who forgot to file her tax returns-three years in a row. No…IRS…I swear I’ve been doing it…*runs to confirm*
Rogue's Curse is available for download at Lyrical Press and Amazon.com, but I'm itching to email one shiny copy to someone. This is my first contest, so I'll make it simple. And no, I'm not giving away a pet clovort. That would be illegal. Clovorts are nasty monsters with a taste for human flesh. They'll eat anyone—and I mean ANYONE—which makes them efficient disposals of homicidal evidence. So yes, they come in handy. But no, you can't have mine.
What does a clovort look like? Well, Oompus is the first clovort you'll meet in Rogue's Curse. He stands 8 feet tall and weighs 600 pounds. Here's an excerpt describing his entrance:
"The clovort’s bull-like head quivered and his lips parted, revealing jagged yellow teeth. His face was bumpy, as if layered over solid bedrock. His bare, squat legs rippled with muscle at the calf, but were fleshy and gelatinous at the thigh. Oompus’s hoofed feet, obscured by long ankle hair, clopped against the floor, barely supporting the extraordinary weight of his naked frame."
Cute, huh? Here's how to enter the drawing:
STEP ONE: Comment on this blog post with an answer to "What would you name your pet clovort?"
STEP TWO: "Follow" or "Like" me on at least one of these:
If you already do, then you've already completed this step.
That's it. I may even use your pet clovort's name in the sequel to Rogue's Curse. You can comment as many times as you'd like, but you only get one entry. If you're feeling creative, tell me who you might feed to a clovort, how you would dress it, etc.
On Monday, September 13th, I'll throw all your names in a big imaginary top-hat. Either my pet clovort or my six-year old daughter will pull one out. Completely random. I'll announce the winner the same day. You tell me what format you want the eBook in and I'll email it to you.
She contributed the most to my 101-Word Daily Stupor. And instead of digging through the comments, I thought I'd share her lovelies here. Every story is 101 words, and she used all three keywords in each one.
YOU SHOULDN’T BE PARADING AROUND LIKE THAT
(Keywords: Clarinet, Wrestling, Eskimo)
They sat on the curb, arm in arm. Pinky toes wrestling on the asphalt. The sun warmed their glistening summer skin like the sugar-toasted top on a perfect crème brulee. They could hear the music blaring. Just around the corner the crowd began to stand. They leaned in at exactly the same moment to take a bite of the Eskimo Pie. Their eyes met. Their foreheads bumped. The flag girls swept by, followed swiftly by the flutes and clarinets, humming and buzzing right into their moment. The world stopped spinning. The ice cream puddled at their feet. And then they kissed.
PRETTY PRANCING PONIES
(Keywords: Umbrella, Inebriated, Carousel)
When she asked me to dance, I immediately refused. My eyes shifted towards the floor. I stared at my gorgeous Manolos. Ooh, is that a scuffmark? I shuffled my feet. Admired my new pedicure. Then tossed my hair in that open invitation way that all girly-girls seem to know from birth…or three, when your locks are actually tossable. But when I looked up again, she was already walking away, making her way to the next pretty pony on the carousel. And they glided onto the dancefloor, circling the room in inebriated waves and swirls, like Chinatown umbrellas. And I couldn’t breathe.
AUGUST IS AWARE THAT IT'S NOT SEPTEMBER
(Keywords: Gobble, Milk, September) August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, which really has nothing to do with September, except that it happens to be the month prior. But August is also Cataract Awareness, Children’s Eye Health & Safety, Eye Injury Prevention, Immunization Awareness, Medic Alert, Pain Awareness, Psoriasis Awareness, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month. Who the hell knew? And does anyone really care? Because for 30 days we can all feign enough interest, gobble up the mass distribution of regurgitated info, and allow La Leche League to preach from their breast-vs-bottled milk soapbox, but then it’s another month. And what was the point?
EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES FOR THE GOLDEN COAST
(Keywords: Ink, Hamburger, Koala) Driving up El Camino Real through San Mateo County, you can’t help but notice an inordinate number of eucalyptus trees majestically lining the sides of the road. Their trunks stretching up through the soft, wet blanket of fog, branches reaching, leaves pleading, trying desperately to find their way back home. And you wonder, how the hell did you get here, in this place with no koalas without zoo parking? You with your fibrous shedding bark. Your fragrant healing oils that flow like ink and smell like rain. Australia is worlds away from California. Oooh, look, an In-and-Out, who wants a hamburger?
(Keywords: Bologna, Crater, Abstain)
He stood before the bathroom mirror. His mother’s make-up lights glaring at him unflatteringly, making him squint and illuminating the craters mapping the topography of his adolescent face. The peach fuzz above his upper lip, which had begun to tremble slightly, glistened as the tiny beads of sweat pooled at the corners of his mouth. Abstain? he thought. He unbuttoned his jeans and slid his hand inside. I can’t even get her to look at me. He wiggled his fingers, searching, reaching. What’s wrong with me? And he pulled out the wad of rolled bologna and flung it onto the floor.
CROUCHING AESTHETICIAN, HIDDEN DOMINATRIX
(Keywords: Fungus, Pencil, Brazilian) “What I do for you?” she yells, straddling her pedicure stool, pencil behind one ear, and up to her elbow in other people’s fungus. “Oh, I just need a wax,” I said, kinda whispering that last word, which you only ever do when you’re not talking eyebrows. “Your lip?” she yells back. All heads turn toward me. “Well, no,” I respond, self-consciously raising my hand over my mouth. Heads volley back to her. “Arms? Legs? Back?” she yells again, eyeing me up and down. “No. No. And no, thanks.” “Ooooh,” she says with a sadistic gleam in her eye. “Brazilian!!”
(Keywords: Marmalade, Potent, Hypnotic)
Voulez-vous coucher avec mois ce soi? wails Lady Marmalade, as the strobe lights flash in epileptic waves of hypnotic bumps and grinds. [What does it even mean?] She twirls and raises her hands towards the exposed ceiling pipes. [The speaking French, that’s totally hot.] She shimmies her shoulders and runs her hands through her hair. [And she obviously wants to do him.] She shakes her head to the potent rhythm as the fog oozes onto the floor. [But she’s a hooker.] The stranger behind her thrusting his hips into her as she instinctively pushes back. [What’s so sexy about that?]
(Keywords: Bagel, Optometrist, District)
When I walked into her office, I should’ve known what to expect. But she came highly recommended by four friends who I would definitely let buy my lingerie in the dark. “I. M. URS, OPTOMETRIST,” read the goldleaf letters on the beveled glass door. I rolled my eyes, cursed my BFFs under my breath, shoved the bagel in my mouth, and gently squeezed the tacky brass handle. The room was heavily incensed, almost as much as I was, and if I wasn’t already positive that I was nowhere near the red light district, the pow-chicka-wow-wow décor almost certainly belied that truth.
ROOM TO BREATHE
(Keywords: Counterfeit, Frog, Dirigible)
She blew out the last of her air bubbles, sat flat at the bottom of the pool, and looked up at the glassy counterfeit sky ten feet above. The ripples across the water looked like dancing hula-hoops. Or else the 7 concentric circles of Hell. She wasn’t really sure. Her lungs began to tighten and burn. A yellowgreen frog float slowly sailed overhead casting an intimidating shadow on the pool floor like a German dirigible at twilight. She swallowed what breath remained. Her heartbeat pounding now behind her eyeballs. Trying desperately to drown out the muffled sounds of her mother’s screams.
LIKE A TIGER FROM A TOP HAT
(Keywords: Boisterous, Abracadabra, Golf)
The view from the 18th hole of Half Moon Bay Golf Links is neither easily described nor easily forgotten. Standing tall amongst the cypress, hunched over and scraggly, like wise ancient women, beside the white tees, of course, driver in place, squinting against the sun so jealousy enveloped by the clouds. Surrounded, by sight and sound and smell, on the one side by nothing but water. Boisterous oceanic waves. Cliffs. Sky. Fog. And then…you swing. And it’s a magical moment. A moment that just hangs in utter silence. True suspension of disbelief. And it just disappears. The very definition of abracadabra.
FRIDAY IS FOR FOREPLAY
(Keywords: Scone, Linebacker, Aphrodisiac)
Saturday mornings are the aphrodisiac of Sunday. Time slows down somehow between the hours of 5 and 9am. The sun rises later. The air stays crisper longer. The sheets and blankets are suddenly the perfect combination of coolness, softness, and weight. The comforting smell of warm nutty coffee and sweet blueberry scones wafts over the entire neighborhood. And then come the buzzing sounds of lawnmowers and weedeaters wielded by bronzed linebackers that seduce the air with the aromatic flavors of fresh cut grass and fallen flowers, teasing and wooing all five senses at once. But Sunday mornings. Nothing short of. Heaven.
HE NEVER FELT A THING
(Keywords: Sweatshirt, Cowboy, Vitriol)
She sat in the lobby of the veterinarian’s office, her grey Stanford sweatshirt stained with blood and tufts of fur, trying to ignore the stench of reptile aquariums and bird cages, and trying not to cry. The receptionist, whose vitriol could clearly not be contained, reminded her, yet again, that there were tissues in the restroom. She rose to her feet, shuffling slowly towards the exit, thinking only of her poor Beaux, his big brown eyes, his silky coat, his cowboy charm. The assistant came out from the back with a ziploc baggie. The collar inside read: My family lost me.
THE ONE WITH THE TRUE LOVE’S KISS
(Keywords: Brie, Cadence, Metallic)
Her breathing had slowed to a measured cadence. The baked brie oozed onto her plate in a rapturous puddle of rosemary and grapes. She swirled her syrah, plunged her nose into her glass, and immersed herself into the metallic twinges of clove and cardamon and pluot. She raised her eyes, flecked with gold and copper, and looked across the table at the cerulean pools staring back at her. A swift but audible sigh escaped her lips. And for just a moment she felt exactly like Sleeping Beauty. Suddenly awakened. Suddenly blinded by a beautiful bright light. Suddenly thrust back into life.
Jo Anna is available for tweeting at: @joannaguerra
A permanent fixture at my local coffeehouse, I hunch over my laptop in a caffeine-induced frenzy, jowls slick with muse. I inject comedy into the urban and traditional fantasy genres like a squeeze of lemon into ice water: tart, yet refreshing. When not pounding on my keyboard, I worship at the feet of Ray Bradbury, and engage in an unhealthy obsession with Grace Park and Tricia Helfer.
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