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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Polk Authors and Illustrators Festival

Earlier this month, I got to participate in the Polk Authors and Illustrators Festival. Small Child joined me.

It was a blast, because it was also a Halloween fest. The zombie makeup table was right beside me. Plus, there was a dog show, so I got to see all of the adorable little dogs in costumes running around.

Of course, the event carried with it the inevitable learning lesson. I set up my table and was smiling at the passersby. My husband took Small Child off in his stroller to find some food. They hadn't been gone five minutes when my first customer approached and wanted to buy a copy of Spirit World. She had a $20. I had change. In my wallet. In the stroller.

Head desk.

Ah well. It was still an enjoyable experience, and next time, I will make sure to have my change in the same box as my books so this does not happen again.

What about you? Do any of you have learning experiences from events that you'd like to share?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gated Launch Party

Last month, I had the honor of attending Amy Christine Parker's launch for her debut book, Gated. If you haven't read it, you will definitely want to check it out. It's about a teenage girl named Lyla, who is raised in a cult and finds herself questioning their teachings. It's a thriller. It's contemporary. It's a romance. It's got it all. But anyway, onto the party.

First, Amy read a section from the first chapter. 



Then, she answered some questions and discussed the cults she researched in order to write the book. It's fascinating stuff, delving into the minds of people who lead and join cults. After the questions, she signed copies of her books and took photos with everyone.


Just look at that cake. Yum!


Amy is critique partner, but I'm definitely a fan of hers too, and I can't wait for the next book.

If you want to read more of Amy's writing, check out our short story blog, Fiction Femme Fatale.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tracy Tam - An Artist's Rendition

As many of you know, WriteOnCon was last week. Among the attendees was a very generous author/artist who offered to sketch everyone's characters. I'm not sure she knew what she was in for, but she has been diligently working on her drawings for over a week now. Here is her rendition of Tracy Tam. I love the devious smile.

 
Make sure you check out some more of Larua's work here:

In the Clouds
Deviant Art
NA Graphic Novel: "Geode Corner: Love is Conplicated"


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

And the winner of the Gated/Legasea/Spirit World giveaway is ...

Millie Burns!

Congratulations, Millie! An email has been sent your way. Please respond by Monday, August 19th, or we will chose a new winner.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Happy Book Birthday to Amy Christine Parker

Amy's book, Gated, has been released into the wild today. And to celebrate, I am hosting a giveaway for my books as well as hers in a huge contest. Check out the prizes below, and make sure you enter on the right hand side of the page. 

One winner receives all of the following - autographed paperback of Legasea and bookmark, ecopy of Spirit World, Spirit World bookmark and sticker, The Caged Graves bookmark, autographed bookmarks by J. A. Souders for Renegade and Revelations, autographed copy of Gated, Gated shirt, bookmarks, and owl bracelet.


 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cut Scene from Spirit World

Spirit World is Riesa's story, but in earlier drafts, her best friend Connor took a front seat in many of the scenes. As I brought the story forward, Connor slipped into the background more and more. Here is a scene that I still believe happened in her story, but it got pulled out so I could focus on other things. It's the story of her first kiss.

***
Connor rolled on the living room floor laughing, empty soda cans at his side. I sat cross-legged next to him doubled over in hysterics. Our homework lay on the coffee table, set aside for more important things, like fun. “I’d totally forgotten about that,” he said.

That’s because you weren’t the one waiting outside the school for two hours in the middle of the night, in the freezing cold with a backpack full of clothes and a teddy bear in your arms.”
 
His body shook with more laughter. “You came and got me though, and after wandering around town for an hour, we got too cold and had to go to the fire station and ask for a ride home.”

“And we told them to bring us here,” I said, my words tumbling on top of his, “because we figured we’d get in less trouble than at your house.”

“I remember now.” His laughter faded and turned into a kind of quiet happiness. “It was the first night I ever stayed here.”

“Was it?” I asked.

“Yeah, it was late so your mom called my parents and told them she’d bring me home in the morning.”

I smiled, reliving the feeling that night had given me. He had been willing to run away with me, knowing we wouldn’t actually go anywhere, and he would have to bear the wrath of his parents the next morning. Not everyone has a friend like that.

“There’s one thing I’d never forget about that night though,” he added thoughtfully.

What do you … ooh.”

The memories clicked together and I knew exactly what he was talking about. Long after my mom had gone to sleep, Connor and I sat in the living room talking about nothing in particular. We were twelve and both fairly innocent, so I was surprised when he asked me, “Have you ever kissed anyone?”

“No,” I answered. “Have you?”

“No.” A moment of silence. “Do you want to try it? You know, for practice?”

“Okay. What do I do?”

“Just close your eyes.”

I did, and for about two or three seconds, I felt his lips pressing warm and soft against mine.

Then he pulled back and curled up on the couch under his blankets. I went upstairs, and we never talked about it again.

At the time, it hadn’t seemed like such a big deal. But the memory of it now, coupled with the sweet look in his eyes, sent confusion rippling through my mind.

I looked down at the floor, and he changed the subject. “I can’t believe we actually thought we could run away.”

I picked at an odd-colored section of carpet, wishing I could have that innocence back, just for a moment. “We thought we could do a lot of things.”
 
***
 
If you'd like to win a copy of Spirit World, along with some other great prizes, check out the Rafflecopter on the side.


Monday, July 29, 2013

My History Online

As an author, I need to have an online presense, especially since one of my books is only available online. As I go around the various sites, trying to figure out how to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Goodreads, and Pinterest, I'm reminded of my early days online and the changes the Internet has gone through since then.

1991 - My grandfather purchased monthly access to GEnie. This was a text-based service where you had to pay for every minute online trolling the message boards. I hung out in the movies, TV, and books forums. This was before we all got AOL CDs in the mail on a weekly basis. Heck, this was before everyone and their mother had Internet. The Internet wasn't even a thing people talked about. On GEnie, you had to pay for chat and to download pictures. Of course, who wanted to download pictures when you were connected with a 28.8 modem? Seriously, one picture took forever.

1995 - I got my first Internet access through a local college. It was still text-based, although browsers were starting to pop up, so a few sites had pictures. Whenever I ran into a site like that, my computer simply said [image]. But I could chat! I made several online friends, including a friend with whom I began my first fantasy novel. I lost touch with her, but I still have our novel somewhere. Maybe I'll post a section from it one day. I also got my first webpage at that time. Someone else designed it for me.

1997 - I purchased my first computer! I bought local Internet access. I taught myself HTML and for the first time, created a webpage. It was full of all sorts of rainbow bars and smily face GIFs. It was my own, and I did it myself. I wish I had a cached pic of the home page. I also created a theatre page on Geocities. Remember that? It was a free site that hosted web pages. You "moved" into a neighborhood that fit your theme and built your site. I had a scanner. I could scan pictures and upload them via FTP. It still took forever though, because the world was still using dial up Internet. I think I had upgraded to 56.6.

After that, the Internet spread like wildfire. I forgot most of my HTML because you no longer needed it to create a web page. With text based programs, it's all so easy, but I still remember that first page I created. And I still remember those early days and how the world opened up when I first connected.

When did your online experience first begin?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blogger Book Fair: Psyched by Juli Caldwell

Vance Alfaro is the “ghost-hunting hottie” we meet in Psyched, the guy who hardly knows Aisi but decides to man up and stick with her through that long, dark night. He’s a freshman in college and he’s studying paranormal phenomenon, but other than that, what do we really know about him? In this exclusive interview with him just for my readers, you get to meet the ghost-hunting hottie!

Us: So, Vance. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Vance: I hate questions like this! I don’t know how to sum myself up in a sentence or two. I guess I should go with the basics. My hometown is Webster, New York, on the shores of Lake Ontario, but right now I’m a freshman at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire. I’m youngest of four boys. For kicks we eat chili and light blue darts while our poor mom yells at us to tell us how disgusting we are. My dad works a lot but he joins in when he can.

Us: Blue darts?

Vance: Uh...let me put it this way. If you do it wrong, you end up in the emergency room.

Us: Okay then! Let’s talk about college. You’re seriously going to school to study ghosts? How did you get interested in that?

Vance: People don’t study paranormal phenomenon unless they have a reason to believe in the first place.

Us: Sounds like you have a story to tell.

Vance: I do. Most people think I’m crazy, my dad especially, but I know what I know.

Us: So what do you know?

Vance: I grew up not too far from the Webster rural cemetery. I heard weird sounds when I was growing up, especially on moonless nights. My dad always said there was no such thing as ghosts. We’re church-going people, so he taught me to believe in guardian angels and stuff like that, but he always thought that any spirit around here had a mission to protect us. Keep us safe. He didn’t think a spirit could get stuck here.

Us: So tell us about the first ghost you ever saw.

Vance: It’s that obvious, huh? Okay. I was walking home from school one day. Usually I’d walk with my brothers, but for some reason I was alone that day. I was about 13. As you go around a bend and up a little hill before you get to my neighborhood, there’s an old stone cottage set back from the road a bit. Overgrown weeping willows kind of hide it so it’s not easy to see unless you know it’s there. That house always kind of creeped me out, but I’d never had to walk by it alone before. The house has this historic marker that I never stopped to read with my brothers there. They just wanted to throw stones and see if we could break some of the windows because the place has been abandoned for years, unless you count the occasional homeless squatter or pot party.

Us: Did you stop to read the sign this time?

Vance: Yeah. I did. It said the house was one of the first built on Nine Mile Road, back in early 1700’s, and it gave the names of the original owners. For some reason I said their names out loud. As soon as I did...wow. We’re not too far from a river where I live, and this little stone cottage is close to it. So this mist rolled in as I said their names, and at first I didn’t think much of it. I mean, it’s upstate New York. Storms roll off the lake all the time, and there’s often fog in the river bottom. I just wanted to hurry home so I didn’t get drenched when the storm hit. As I started to walk away, something in the upper windows caught my eye and I stopped to look. At first it looked like gray curtains blowing out a window, but as I looked closer I saw a face. The sad, crying face of a woman. The mist rolled in and blocked my view of the window. The wind suddenly picked up and I heard this shriek that was definitely not the wind. It’s a good thing I didn’t pee my pants right there. I ran up the hill and once I got out of that little valley where the house was, the mist was gone.

Us: Wow. That’s insane!

Vance: I can’t even explain how much it scared me. Later, I looked up the name of the woman on the marker and researched her history. Turns out she died under suspicious circumstances. She was a newlywed and her husband had just finished building that house for her. Another woman in town wanted to marry her husband, and after the woman came to visit her in her new house, she got really sick. Rumor is she died of poisoning.

Us: Where did you find all this out?

Vance: Old newspapers. Libraries. The local historian. Stuff like that.

Us: Sounds like you take a very academic approach to your ghost hunting.

Vance: Aw, man. That makes me sound so boring! I just want to help these people if I can. That poor woman has been stuck in that house for 300 years, trying to find a way out...If I can help a lost soul like her, what I do is worth it.

Us: I think this brings us to Aisi. Isn’t that what she does? Help send others to whatever comes next? Oh, look! I think you’re blushing!

Vance: Aisi is seriously amazing. She’s haunted in ways a ghost hunter like me isn’t. She’s smart and sassy, and I think she’s the strongest and most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. She’s a tough nut to crack, though.

Us: What do you mean, she’s haunted? Can a person be haunted?

Vance: The stuff I go looking for? It looks for her. It wakes her up at night. It’s all around her and she can’t avoid it. If that’s not haunted...

Us: Gotcha. Last question: Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Vance: I don’t even know what that means. Is this about hockey or something?

Us: Never mind. You’re such a guy. Thanks so much for chatting with us, Vance!

Vance: Anytime.

***

Get Psyched on Amazon, Smashwords, and in paperback at CreateSpace

So far, great reviews:
"This is one of those books you just can't put down. What I love about Psyched in addition to a great, spooky story is strong characters and narrative voice. Aisi is the most awesome chick, strong-willed, sassy, and deals with some crazy stuff happening with a spunkiness that I loved... Psyched is well-written, riveting, surprising and genre-busting. Teens will love this book, but it definitely has a more wide-ranging appeal."

and...

"Aisi Turay is one awesome girl. She has power to see the dead...as in their souls...This is a great read, filled with suspense. I NEVER knew from one chapter to the next what was happening. It is well written and a very enjoyable...and a bit scary!"

Psyched is part ghost story, part suspense, part demon-hunting thriller, part budding romance.It's the story of a girl named Aisi who's doing her best to keep it together for her wreck of a family. She is smart, sassy, and sarcastic enough to keep things interesting. When she meets Vance on the single worst day of her life, she finds a guy who just might be the first person ever to get her, to believe in her, and to out-random her with bizarre observations at the worst possible moment. There's just something about him that she knows she can trust.

Together, Aisi and Vance wander through the memories of others to unlock the secrets of her past while battling a demon who wants to ensure she never finds what she's looking for. Aisi vanquishes demons all the time, but Malus Indolus is too strong. And he has plans for her...and her family.

Psyched is Juli's second novel, the first as an indie writer, and her first experiment with her true love as a reader: paranormal fiction. Her debut novel Beyond Perfection is also available.

You can find Juli on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Blogger Book Fair: Fade by A.K. Morgan

Today, I am hosting A. K. Morgan, author of Fade, and she has shared an exciting excerpt with me today. With just the right blend of humor and tension, I know I'm anxious to read more.


FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book One by A.K. Morgen




Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy

Summary:

What do you do when you realize nothing in your life is what you’ve believed it to be?

When Arionna Jacobs loses her mother in a tragic accident, her world is turned upside down. She’s forced to leave her old life behind and move in with her father. Dace Matthews, a teaching assistant at her new college, is torn in two, unable to communicate with the feral wolf caged inside him.

When they meet, everything they thought they knew about life unravels. Dace has intimate access to Arionna’s mind, and something deep within her fights to rise to the surface. They don't understand what's happening to them or why, and they're running out of time to sort out the strange occurrences around them.

Their meeting sets an ancient Norse prophesy of destruction in motion, and what destiny has in store for them is bigger than either could have ever imagined. Unless they learn to trust themselves and one another, they may never resolve the mystery surrounding who they are to one another, and what that means for the world.

Excerpt:

"What is it, boy?" I climbed to my feet.

My gaze landed on a solid gray wolf, half obscured by a massive tree on the other side of the trail. Unlike the animal I'd seen on the day of Mom's funeral, this wasn't the domesticated kind of wolf. This was the real deal. Big, gray, wild, and ferocious.

My heart stopped, then started racing.

The wolf stared in our direction, snarling at us. The warning sound coming from his throat screamed "I'm going to eat you" loud and clear. I suddenly understood what Little Red Riding Hood must have felt when she figured out her grandma wasn't her grandma.

I was shaking in my boots.

I looked around for something, anything, to defend myself with as the dog alternated between excited barks and low, warning growls. A menacing enough sound so far as it went, but I kind of doubted the wolf thought so. He looked curiously un-intimidated as he snarled. As per Murphy's Law of animal attacks, not a loose brick, rock, branch, or stick lay anywhere within grabbing distance.

I was so screwed.

The wolf paced forward.

The lab lowered his head and growled one long, continuous growl.

I held my breath.

The wolf looked at me and then at the dog and growled back. Unlike the dog’s, though, the wolf's growl was actually scary. Warning bells sounded in the far reaches of my mind, but they started too late. Of course.

Between one quick, panicked breath in and one sharp exhalation out, the wolf charged toward us. Bits of leaves and mud flew up where his paws hit the ground.

The dog dove in front of me, snarling protectively.

I knew the wolf would rip right through him and land on me any minute. I'd been in town a whole week, and I was going to be eaten by a wolf.

Life really wasn't fair.

FADE is available from Curiosity Quills Press at Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo.

About the Author:

A.K. Morgen lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband, three dogs, and demonic cat. She has a graduate degree in Criminal Justice and Law, and plans to save the world some day. When she’s not writing, she spends her time teaching her niece and nephews how to cause mischief. You can also find her dancing in the grocery store, building a spork army, and fundraising for nonprofits close to her heart.

You can learn more about Ayden at http://akmorgen.com or by following her on Twitter, GoodReads, or Facebook.






Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blogger Book Fair: Resurrecting Harry by Contance Phillips

Today, I bring you Constance Phillips, discussing her favorite scene to write in her novel, Resurrecting Harry.

When asked what my favorite scene to write from Resurrecting Harry was, I didn’t even have to think about it. Without a doubt it was the scene in which Eric first falls victim to Harry’s wants and needs pulsing within him, and then realizes he is, in fact, separate from Harry and can make his own choices.

I knew that Erich’s act of picking a lock and breaking into a cabinet in Bess’s shed would be treading the line between alpha hero and first-class jerk, but I enjoyed showing the way Harry’s memories and will overpowered Erich, and then his realization that he can overcome Harry’s spirit and act on his own.

Here’s an excerpt from that scene:

Harry’s memories, his very soul, pulsed inside with each beat of Erich’s heart. Was it even possible for him to use those memories to accomplish the skills Harry had worked tirelessly to learn? There was much more to picking a lock or escaping shackles or a straight jacket than the mental knowhow.

In this moment, nothing seemed more important than proving those skills were not as dead as his previous body. Finding a hat pin, of all things, in the bottom of the drawer, Erich faced off against the lock. That piece of him that was all Harry stood tall inside, filling the void, making his head swell and swim.

Squatting so he was on eye level, his fingers began their manipulations, driven by the memories of a past life. Pride welled as the lock popped open in just a handful of seconds. “My, my, I do believe that’s a new record,” he said in a voice that was more boastful and more Harry’s than the one he’d grown used to.

The lock fell away from the handles.

I really enjoyed this brief moment where I shined the spotlight big and bold on what I imagined Harry’s stage frame-of-mind to be. I showed what I thought it must be like for him when he was on the stage, in the middle of an escape.

In the paragraphs that follow that excerpt; Bess catches him breaking into the cabinet, throws lemonade in his face, and then threatens to kick him off the property. Seeing what he’s done through her eyes and realizing there is a difference between what belonged to Harry and what belongs to Erich, is a life changing moment for Erich. He then begins to understand the he can treat Bess in a different way than Harry did.

For more information about Resurrecting Harry, see below:


Can the greatest escape artist ever known break the grim reaper’s chains to save the only woman he’s ever loved?

In order to save Bess from self-destruction, Harry Houdini puts his afterlife on the line by entering a wager with purgatory’s keeper. He gives Harry a younger face and body, and a new name: Erich Welch.

Bess clings to his promise to deliver a coded message from beyond the grave, determined to provide the bridge for him to cross, even if that means befriending her husband's sworn enemy. Erich needs to help Bess over her loss and put her on the road to healing, but will any good come from resurrecting Harry? 

Trailer:

http://youtu.be/2fWMcc8h368

Resurrecting Harry is available for purchase in the following places:

Amazon POD : http://www.amazon.com/Resurrecting-Harry-Constance-Phillips/dp/1939173132/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361977605&sr=8-3&keywords=Resurrecting+Harry

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Resurrecting-Harry-ebook/dp/B00BLBKDDQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361977605&sr=8-1&keywords=Resurrecting+Harry

Barnes and Noble (print/Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/resurrecting-harry-constancephillips/1114721629?ean=9781939173133

All Romance eBooks:  https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-resurrectingharry-1101825-143.html

Bio



Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, two ready-to-leave-the-nest children, and four canine kids. Her perfect fantasy vacation would involve hunting Dracula across Europe with her daughter, who also digs that kind of stuff. When she's not writing about fairies, shifters, vamps, and guardian angels, she's working side-by-side with her husband in their hardwood flooring business.

Constance is actively involved in her local Romance Writers of America chapter (MVRWA) and the Southeast Michigan chapter of the United States Pony Club. When not writing or enjoying the outdoors, she loves reality television or can be found at a Rick Springfield concert (just look for the pink Converse high tops).

Constance blogs regularly at www.constancephillips.com. You can also follow her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook.

Website: http://constancephillips.com/

Blog: http://constancephillips.com/blog

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6470282.Constance_Phillips

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gated - Legasea - Spirit World Giveaway

Gated by my critique partner, Amy Christine Parker, releases on August 6th, and in honor of her book release, I am having a giveaway.


In Mandrodage Meadows, life seems perfect. The members of this isolated suburban community have thrived under Pioneer, the charismatic leader who saved them from their sad, damaged lives. Lyla Hamilton and her parents are original members of the flock. They moved here following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, looking to escape the evil in the world. Now seventeen, Lyla knows certain facts are not to be questioned:

Pioneer is her leader.

Will is her Intended.

The end of the world is near.


***

One winner will get a Gated prize pack, an autographed paperback copy of Legasea, and an ecopy of Spirit World.

There are a ton of ways to enter.

*** If you have already purchased Legasea or Spirit World, please provide me with some sort of proof - a receipt, a pic of you holding the book, a random page on your ereader that doesn't come from the first three chapters. Send it to krystalyndrown at gmail.com or post it on the web and link to it in the comments. If you do that, you will receive an Amazon gift card in your prize pack instead of the book. ***

Good luck!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Indie Bookfest 2013



For those of you in the Disney area, or willing to travel to the Disney area, there is a lovely little event happening on August 3rd called the Indie BookFest. Here is the description from their website.

Indie BookFest 2013 is all day long event celebrating Indie Authors and Artists and their freedom of expression. Join some of your favorite Indie Authors for a day filled with book signings, sessions, and lots of good food and great fun! You won't want to miss the sessions throughout the day, where several panelists will be speaking on a variety of topics relevant to writing, publishing, promoting your books, and all things indie.

And the best thing is, it's only $20, and that includes food. I'll be there with bells on.

They're also holding a raffle to benefit a local charity, A Gift for Teaching. This is something that I relied on heavily when I was a teacher. A Gift for Teaching is a free store where teachers can go once a month and shop for school supplies for their students. Teachers spend hundreds or thousands of their own money each year to purchase classroom supplies. Those stores are definitely a gift! So make sure you bring school supplies for a free entry into the raffle and Indie BookFest swag.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Daily Writing Goals

When my son was an infant, I would set us up on the couch with him in my left arm and my lap top on the cushion to my right. While he slept or ate or wiggled, I would type. Back in those days, I could get 3 k words, easy. What else did I have to do? (Well, cooking, cleaning, yard work, but what did that matter compared to creating new worlds?)

Then, as children tend to do, my son got older. I could still get a decent amount of words in once he turned one. When that second birthday hit, he was more playful, so I went down to 2 k words a day. Then, I got a job and he turned three. My word output went down to 1 k a day, which I did at night once the kiddo was in bed.

And then he turned four. Four-year-olds are exhausting, yo. I go to bed at 9-o-clock when he does and have no time to write on the weekends. My goal, which was once 3 k a day, has dwindled to 500 a day. But let me tell you, I am proud when I reach that goal, because it is hard won.

I'm still writing. I'm still plodding along. But I am glad I haven't traded time with my kiddo. He won't be little forever, and the words will still be there.

What are your goals for each day, and how have they changed over the years?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tracy Tam: Santa Command

Well, I had planned a blog about my writing process and how it's changed over the years as my family has changed and grown, but then something cool happened. Here is how Publisher's Marketplace put it:

Krystalyn Drown's TRACY TAM: SANTA COMMAND, about a young girl who doesn't believe in Santa, yet must rely on the magic of the season and the miracle of science in order to get out of a jam in time for Christmas, to Georgia McBride at Month9Books, with Ashlynn Yuhas editing, for publication in Fall 2014 (World).

Tracy Tam is my first middle grade, and I'm super excited to see it find a home. I'll be sharing more details as I go.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Unexpected

Ever have one of those "Wow! I didn't see that coming" moments? My mom and I had one the other day while we were researching our family history, particularly the family of her father.

Now, her father, Gene, had 3 brothers, Max, Harry, and Jim Frank. Max was the oldest and born in 1921, I think. I knew all of them and had spent nearly every summer at my great grandmother's house. I thought I knew everything about their family. Then, my mother found this.


This is a picture of the 1920 census from Dothan, Alabama. The highlighted section shows Masco Fowler (my great grandfather) as the head of household, Belle (my great grandmother) as his wife, and Sudie, their three and a half year old daughter, who according to another website was born around December 1916.

???

Neither my mother or I had ever heard of Sudie. Who was she? Why can't we find any further records or her? My writerly brain is running circles around this mystery. It's probably something like she passed away before any of the other kids were aware of her, and she just wasn't mentioned. But what if it were More?

One of my grandfather's brothers is still alive. My mom is going to ask him if he knows anything. But if he doesn't, who else is still around to answer our questions? Maybe I'll just have to write my own story for Sudie.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Short Story: Mars's Story

When I was writing Spirit World, I did a few shorts so I knew the background on my characters. This one is for Mars, Irish, and V.

1964

Kenny doesn’t remember coming to the orphanage. He has always been there. And for all he knows, he always will be.

Every day he stares out his window, through the bars, to the other kids playing basketball. He notices the asphalt is broken and the weeds poke through. Wonders what it feels like to run on it. Knows that it’s pointless to wonder. They would never let him play. Not anymore.

He used to play with them, but when he was six, he asked them about the strange voices in his head, and what they did whenever they heard the voices. They ran away and told The Ladies.

The Ladies gave him his own room with special windows, because he scared the other kids.

He is ten now, and allowed to come out for meals and supervised recreation, but he doesn’t. The other kids call him “Crazy Kenny” and sing mean made-up songs. So he stays in his room and reads.

The Ladies get him any books he wants from the library. They feel bad he doesn’t have any friends, but they’re scared of him too.

He reads mostly ghost stories until a new girl, who doesn’t know his nickname, comes up to his window and says, “Hi.”

He says nothing. He doesn’t usually talk to the other kids and has forgotten how.

“I’m Irish. The other kids won’t let me play. Will you come out?”

He does. They sit on the broken asphalt, playing jacks.

He practices talking with her. Discovers she makes him good at it.

The basketball rolls through their game and a kid yells, “Hey, Crazy Kenny!” holding his arms out for the ball.

Kenny throws it back, but then Irish asks, “Why did he call you that?”

He shrugs. “Ghosts talk to me.” He had figured that much out from the library books.

“Really?” She sounds amazed, not scared.

It’s a first for Kenny, so he tells her all about Sam and Lily, the two ghosts who talk to him.

She listens, laughs in all the right places.

He’s happy. Maybe for the first time ever.

She tells him stories about her favorite planet, Mars. How she would like to live there one day, what she thinks it will be like.

Really she just wants to escape. Her life has been very wrong lately. That’s why she loves his stories, and why she loves to tell hers.

A few weeks later, a knock sounds on Kenny’s door. It’s Irish, telling him The Ladies have found an uncle, and she’s going to live with him.

His world crashes.

For a solid month, Kenny stays in his room.

When he comes out, he asks The Ladies to get him some books on Mars.

He reads them all, the factual ones, as well as the made-up stories. The ones with people living there are his favorite. That way, he can imagine he’s there too. With Irish.

He sits re-reading Podkayne of Mars and hears another knock at his door. It’s a lady. Not one of The Ladies. Not as old as them either.

“Hello, Kenny,” she says. “My name is Vermillion. Can I come in?”

“Yes.”

She sits in his comfy chair by the window. He sits on the bed, legs dangling over the edge.

“I want to talk to you about the voices you hear.”

He rolls his eyes. He’s heard this before. The Ladies used to send strange people in here all the time to talk. He thought they had stopped.

“Your friend Irish told her uncle about you, and he called me.”

He almost cries, afraid they’re going to send him away for scaring Irish, even though he didn’t. “I’m not crazy,” he pleads.

“I know you’re not. I’ve come to help. Irish’s uncle had a brother, Calvin.” His name chokes in her throat. “He was gifted like you. Like me, too.” Her eyebrows lift while she waits for him to understand what she’s telling him.

Slowly, he accepts the truth. “You believe me?”

She doesn’t answer his question. Instead, she asks a new one. “Would you like to come live with me?”

“Why?” He’s still suspicious.

“Because I can teach you all about the Spirit World.”

He’s intrigued. “Will I get to see Irish again?”

“If you like.”

That settles it. But he has one more question. “Can I call you V?”

She considers it. She’s never really felt like a Vermillion. And she wasn’t Millie anymore either. “Yes, I think I would like that very much.” She stands and holds out her hand. “Are you ready, Kenny?”

“Call me Mars.”

And they walk out the door.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kiya by Katie Hamstead

I'm excited to bring you a blog post today by Katie Hamstead, author of the newly released Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh. She's here to tell us a little bit today about researching her book.


First up, thank you for having me! I’m really excited about my debut NA Novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh. It’s is a Historical Romance released by Curiosity Quills. It’s the first book in the trilogy following Naomi’s (Kiya) life. It’s set during the late 18th Dynasty of Egypt, and begins when she is taken to be a wife of the infamous heretic pharaoh, Akhenaten.

This story took a lot of effort to write. With most of the characters being real historical figures, like Kiya herself, Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Horemheb, Ay, the three Queen daughters and Tutankhamen just to name a few, I needed to do a TON of reading and research on each and every one of them. I then had to figure out a timeline of events and line all their lives up. There was a lot of math to work out ages and corresponding dates.

I read up on Egyptian culture, especially during the Amarna period and the tension which ensued. The Amarna period was an enormous upheaval from the traditional ways as they moved the capital and disposed of all the gods except Aten. So I needed to understand a great deal about their religion too, and which god each of the characters favored and had to keep concealed.

I also read about daily living, what they wore, ate, how they went to the bathroom. All the small details counted to make it believable. With Naomi being Hebrew, that culture needed to be researched as well. The contrast between the Hebrews and Egyptians was dramatic, and a great source of internal conflict for Naomi. Being a stark believer in Elohim according to her people’s traditions, living in Amarna under the strict Aten only regime is hard for her and causes her trouble.

After doing all this research I was finally able to begin. But as I wrote I found I needed to research more and more so I was in a continual state of shifting events to match which historical theories I wanted to slot into the plot line. Incredibly, I enjoyed every second of it. I’d recommend reading about the time period. Being more than 3000 years ago the history is in fragments, especially as later pharaohs (especially the 19th Dynasty kings) tried to erase the Amarna period from history, and tomb robbers desecrated the Valley of the Kings for its wealth. So historians often have contradicting ideas, but that was part of the fun of it! I could pick which theory I liked the most and use it in my plot.

Some books I used while doing my research are below:

  • Littleton, C. Scott. Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth and Storytelling
  • Tyldesley, Joyce. Egypt’s Golden Empire: The Dramatic Story of Life in the New Kingdom
  • Hawass, Zahi. Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs

That’s only three books, but most of my research came from online journals, museum and university websites etc.
 
***
 
 


Oh yes, Kiya. Make him love you, make him hold you in his highest regard....

When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for…

The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya.

Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood.
***
 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

Happy book Birthday to my fabulous critique partner Dianne K. Salerni. Her YA historical, The Caged Graves is out today from Clarion.

The year is 1867, and seventeen-year-old Verity Boone is excited to return from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, the hometown she left when she was just a baby. Now she will finally meet the fiancé she knows only through letters! Soon, however, she discovers two strangely caged graves . . . and learns that one of them is her own mother’s. Verity swears she’ll get to the bottom of why her mother was buried in “unhallowed ground” in this suspenseful teen mystery that swirls with rumors of witchcraft, buried gold from the days of the War of Independence, and even more shocking family secrets.



Also, check out her blog for a chance to win a Caged Graves prize pack! Congratulations, Dianne!

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Garden - A Short Story

It looks like I have another writer in the family. Small Child received a garden for his birthday. This past weekend, I gave him a packet of stickers and asked him to tell me a story about his garden. As he placed the stickers on the paper, he told me his story, and I wrote it down.

The story and vocabulary are all entirely his. I did no prompting whatsoever. I'm a little bit proud. =)
 
Small Child and his garden

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spirit World Release and Blog Tour

Hi, everyone! I know it's been a while since I posted here, but I've been gearing up for a three week blog tour, which starts April 2. I'll post the complete itinerary here once everything is confirmed. Spirit World releases in just two weeks!

Friday, March 22, 2013

18 Things by Jamie Ayers



Can eighteen things save a life?

Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten.

Then, Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible for his death. When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled "18 Things": eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.

But there's more to Olga’s quests than meets the eye and when her therapist reveals a terrifying secret, her world is shaken.

There’s only one thing she knows for certain: her choices won’t just affect her future, but all eternity.

Amazon Link 
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fade by AK Morgan


FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book One by A.K. Morgen


Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy

Summary:

What do you do when you realize nothing in your life is what you’ve believed it to be?

When Arionna Jacobs loses her mother in a tragic accident, her world is turned upside down. She’s forced to leave her old life behind and move in with her father. Dace Matthews, a teaching assistant at her new college, is torn in two, unable to communicate with the feral wolf caged inside him.

When they meet, everything they thought they knew about life unravels. Dace has intimate access to Arionna’s mind, and something deep within her fights to rise to the surface. They don't understand what's happening to them or why, and they're running out of time to sort out the strange occurrences around them.

Their meeting sets an ancient Norse prophesy of destruction in motion, and what destiny has in store for them is bigger than either could have ever imagined. Unless they learn to trust themselves and one another, they may never resolve the mystery surrounding who they are to one another, and what that means for the world.

FADE is available from Curiosity Quills Press at Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo. You can learn more at http://akmorgen.com or by following Ayden on Twitter or Facebook.




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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ever by Jessa Russo

My publisher, Curiosity Quills is having a .99 sale this week for a large number of their titles. I'll be posting about a few of them. You'll also be able to enter to win a $75 Amazon gift card. First up is:



by

Jessa Russo

The EVER Trilogy, Book One


Seventeen-year-old Ever's love life has been on hold for the past two years. She's secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he's completely oblivious.
 
Of course, it doesn't help that he's dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever's life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love.
 
Some girls lose their minds.
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

This conversation happened last week.

Hubby: Mommy got a package in the mail.
Small Child: Is it a book?
My child knows me well, but what he didn't know was that one of the books was for him.

I do my best to encourage a love of reading in my house. One of the things that I do is to expand upon books we've read with activities. Here are the activities we did with How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.

We made apple turnovers.
 
We talked about the life cycle of an apple.
 
We planted apple seeds.
 
We had a lot of fun with these activities. In fact, he was the one who suggested we take them a step further and plant the apple seeds. As he gets older, I'm hoping to continue exploring books with him.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Sunshine Tour -- Orlando

Check out this awesome group of Florida authors who made a stop at the Winter Garden Barnes and Noble on March 2nd. Lots of fun and silliness was had as the authors answer questions such as: Are you a pantster or a plotter (most were pansters like me), What made you decide to write YA, and If one of your characters wrote a letter to you, what would they say?






Back row l-r Lucienne Diver, Jessica Martinez, Kristen Simmons, JA Souders, Anna Banks, Gaby Triana
Front row l-r Karen Amanda Hooper, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Heather Burch

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winners and More Giveaways!

And the winner of the Legasea prize pack is:

Of course, I don't want anyone to go away empty handed, so I'm still going to give you the chance to read Legasea. I have a few electronic copies of the book to give away. If you request one, you must also review it sometime in March or April. A review on your blog is great, but if it doesn't have a large following, please also post the review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes and Noble. You don't have to love the book, although I do ask that you be professional and courteous.

I also have bookmarks for all who want them.


Send both requests to KrystalynDrown at gmail dot com. Include your address if you'd like bookmarks. If you are requesting a review copy, please let me know where you are planning to post the review.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Win a Legasea Prize Pack

It's that time. Legasea released on January 28th, and I've got a Legasea prize pack ready to give away.

One winner will receive

- an autographed paperback of Legasea
- one hand-crafted seal ornament
- whatever else I can think to throw in there

 


Now, the idea is to spread the word about Legasea's release. You can do this in many different ways -- sharing the trailer, posting about it on your blog, making the book icon your Twitter picture, etc.

Rules: There's only one. Be honest please. If you have to create a blog or a Twitter account and you have no followers yet, that's not really sharing anything. Make your voice heard. Make sure people know about the book!

Here is the link to embed the trailer. Make sure you leave off the > < at the beginning and end.

>http://youtu.be/TlIcBN9_A-s<
 
 
I will post the winner here and notify him/her by whichever means he/she gives me (i.e. Twitter handle). If you want to make things easier, leave your email address in the comments once you've entered.
 
Good luck!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Legasea by Krystalyn Drown -- The Book Trailer



Look what I found in my email last night!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Animals of Sea World

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working in the zoology department at Sea World, so I thought I'd share a few of my pictures from that time.


This is Coby, the King penguin. All of the King penguins were named after famous "kings," ie Elvis. Coby was named for the King Cobra.
 

This is Raul, the Magellanic penguin. These guys were the ones who did touring for Sea World publicity since there were able to withstand warmer temperatures. When they went on tour, they got to stay in hotel rooms like everybody else. Of course, they were confined to the bathroom.


I got to spend time with these guys and their adorable little ones.

 
I also spent a lot of time at the manatee exhibit. Since Florida had a moratorium on breeding manatees, the females went to Sea World, while the males went to Epcot.

 
And of course I got to do this.

If you'd like to read more about Sea World, check out their website. They have a ton of information about their animals including animal facts and their conservation efforts. There is even a live penguin cam! Check it out!