Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cover Reveal: Unearthed after Sunset

Last month I posted that I had a new novel I planned to release this fall. It's called Unearthed after Sunset, and is an Urban Fantasy novel about vampires. I've included a little info about it below, as well as the cover.

About the Book:
When Greg Erickson is killed by sultry and seductive vampire Lila, he wakes up cold and alone in a wooden box. After clawing his way out he finds himself thrust into a vampire turf war, unsure of exactly what he’s fighting for. Greg discovers that it’s not easy to be human one day and hunting humans the next, and while his new vampire cohorts try to get him to accept his newfound existence there’s one girl from his human life he’s unable to forget.

“Who are you?” I asked.

Her full lips, painted in bright red, twisted into a grin. I watched as she stood and circled me, unable to help eyeing her milky white legs. I traced their lines to the hem of her black floral dress, dark red flowers folded around her slim frame, as did a short, black leather jacket.

She ignored my question. “What are you doing here?” She asked instead. “Alone in the graveyard that is?”

“Could ask you the same thing,” I said, remembering how I’d said the same words to Caroline. I never realized how popular of a hangout the cemetery was until then.

She smiled again. “It wouldn’t make much sense to ask me such a thing…be like asking a chicken why she’s in the henhouse. I belong here; you’re the one that’s out of place.” She had a sultry voice, sensuous like a jazz singer. It slinked through the air and sent shivers across my skin.

I remembered that I should be scared of her, and I did feel the fear deep in my gut, but on the surface it was hard to be scared of something so beautiful. I still hadn’t learned that looks can be deceiving.

And now, the book cover reveal...

What do you think?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Into the Deep is FREE today!

APRIL 26th - 28th

Awarded a 2012 IndieBRAG Medallion by the Book Readers Appreciation Group.

5 STARS “Well-written and emotionally charged, I found this book to be a total gem.” – Jen Naumann, author of Shymers

5 STARS “This starts off as interesting, and gets more and more so.” – Lucinda Elliot, author of That Scoundrel Emile Dubois

4 STARS “…an interesting storyline, an original spin on the paranormal, and well-written.” – Jen Minkman author of Shadow of Time

Ivy Daniels is a high school junior still learning who she is. After an accident, Ivy finds herself with an ability she doesn’t want, an ability to uncover secrets which quickly begins to redefine what she thinks about the people around her as well as herself. Because of this ability, Ivy becomes the one thing that stands between an angry teen and the death of every student on campus. The only problem is she doesn’t know who wants everyone dead. Will she figure out who has this dark secret, or will she fail to find him in time?

Through her search to do the right thing, Ivy discovers that knowing the thoughts and secrets of those around her may just tear her apart.

Into the Deep is a paranormal romance for mature young adults, that looks at how we define who we are, and what it means to feel alone. It contains minimal use of strong language and mild sensuality.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thoughts on Translating Novels: Idioms and Pop-Culture Refrences

I was looking a book up on Goodreads the other day, and noticed how the book had different covers for the versions that were printed in different languages. This got me thinking about translating my books into other languages. I’ve never had any of my novels translated before, but this is something I’d love to do. However, every time I think about doing it, I worry that something will get lost in translation. 
For example, below is a quote from one of my new favorite book series, Shatter Me.
"Sticks and stones keep breaking my bones but these words, these words will kill me."
Tahereh Mafi (Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2))
It's a twist on a phrase, and idiom, most American's know well. But, how well would that idiom translate into another language. Now, "Sticks and Stones" is a fairly literal idiom, which may not cause too much trouble in translation, but there are other's that aren't so straight forward.

For example, I was watching an episode of Archer the other day, where Archer is marooned on an island full of pirates who don’t speak any English. Archer is trying to talk to a group of pirates via a translator, but his translator keeps getting frustrated with him because Archer keeps using idioms.


“That won’t translate. That’s like last week when you said ‘lend me your ears.”

Most English-speaking people would understand the phrase “lend me your ears,” as meaning “listen,” but taken literally it doesn’t make any sense. (Can you just picture people going all Van-Gogh and throwing their ears at you?)

Idioms have a way of creeping into our conversations, and you might use them more than you think. Have you ever offered someone a penny for their thoughts, ever felt under the weather, or had someone pull the wool over your eyes? These strange little saying have become a part of our everyday conversations. If I were to ever have any of my books translated it would have to be by someone who understood both English and whatever language I was translating my book into well enough to get the meaning of any idioms I was using across, and not just the literal words.

Idioms aren’t my only concern when I think about translating my books into other languages. I wonder about things like Pop-culture references. If one of my characters make a pop-culture reference of a popular movie or a particular pop-star, will people reading my book in another country even know what I'm talking about, or even if they do would there be something or someone else from their country who’d be a better fit for the statement my character is making?
For example, check out this quote from Jennifer Armentrout's Obsidian.
"My palms itched to have a close encounter of the bitch-slap kind with his face."
Jennifer L. Armentrout (Obsidian (Lux, #1))
Now, I know this book has been translated into a number of other languages including Spanish and Italian, and I'm curious if it still has that teen-speak sound to it. Is the "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," reference lost?

Things like idioms and pop-culture references are important in a story. Having a character, or narrator, use an idiom or pop-culture reference helps define that person’s voice. It adds to the story’s style and overall feel.

At the end of the day I wouldn’t care if one of my pop-culture references or idioms got switched out for something more culturally relevant to the language it’s being translated into. It’s not the exact words that are important, it’s the meaning they convey. What would be awful is if a pop-culture reference was removed completely because it didn’t translate well.

What do you think? Have you read any books that were originally written in another language? Did you feel like something was missing?

Thinking about having something translated, check out Smartling:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

3 Books I'm Funding on KICKSTARTER and Why

A while ago I talked about the Morganville Vampires Kickstarter campaign, a project that I helped fund which turned one of my favorite books, "Glass House" into a web series. Since funding this project I've continued to browse through various Kickstarter campaigns and have continued to fund various projects, particularly those involving books.

For those of you unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a crowd-funding platform where people can acquire donations from friends, family, and complete strangers to help fund their projects. It's a great place for indie authors to acquire the funds needed to self-publish their books.

Below are three projects that I've pledged money to (if the authors meet their goal amounts Kickstarter will take the money out of my account and I'll get a few prizes from the authors). For each project I mention what the book is about, and why I decided to give the author money to help publish it.

I hope this post introduces more people to Kickstarter, and maybe generates a few more pledges for the following books.

Project #1: Switch: The Witches of Armour Hill

About the Book: Margaret May Reis knows how strange she is; people have been telling her for years. At sixteen years old, though, Maggie begins to realize that strangeness is only half the story. Maggie isn’t just strange – she’s a witch. READ MORE

Why I chose to help fund it: First I love anything paranormal, and this story sounds like a lot of fun. Second, the author has an organized Kickstarter page, and mentions that she's familiar with the self-publishing process. Third, she explains where the money she raises will go and seems to be asking for a fair amount. And, finally, the author talks about, which is all about helping others do the same thing that she's doing. With all that, I had to pledge a few bucks.

Project #2: Among the Shadows

About the Book: Experience the darker side of YA as 13 authors explore the places others prefer to leave among the shadows. READ MORE

Why I chose to help fund it: First I like that this is YA, and that it's an anthology. With my pledge I'll get a copy of the book and get to read stories from some new authors. Second, I like that this project is nearly completely funded. It's exciting to know that a project you're funding will come to life.

Project #3: The Border

About the Book: Eva Lockhart, vampire of the Kairi tribe, never even dreamed of crossing the border, a river that seperates her tribe from the Theon tribe. READ MORE

Why I chose to help fund it: When I pledged a donation to this book it had zero backers, which would normally make me a little wary about the project, but as I read on the author seemed truly passionate about writing. Her story sounds interesting, I love anything about vampires, and I like that I'll be inspiring another young writer to keep with it.

Books take a lot of time and money to publish. As a self-published author myself, I know how difficult the task can be. For the three books above, my contributions are merely a drop in the bucket. If any of the projects I've mentioned sound interesting, check out their Kickstarter campaigns. I'm always urging people to support indies, and pledging money to a Kickstarter campaign is a great way to do that.

How do you fell about Kickstarter? Have you ever helped fund a project, or ran a campaign of your own?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The 7 Most Influential Books in My Life

This list may surprise you. It's not filled with the most philosophical of reads, or hard to swallow literary-works. It's simply a list of the books that changed my life. It's a personal list. What I find most interesting about it is that (most of) the following books are not actually my favorite books. But they are the books that changed the way I read, that changed what I read, and ultimately what and how I write as well.

Books can immerse us in brand new worlds, they can provide an escape, they can teach us about the world, and they can teach us about ourselves.

The following books helped me discover not only what I truly love to read, but who I am as a writer as well.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King- I owe much of my love of reading to Stephen King. I ate his books up when I was growing up and they both terrified and amazed me. But, it was reading Salem's Lot in particular that made me realize how much scarier the written word can be than any other form of media. It was reading this book that I realized how much power the written word had. It also sparked my interest in the paranormal, the love of which has only grown since.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare- This play showed me that the best stories are eternal. Even though The Merchant of Venice was written over 400 years ago, the story was just as relatable as the more modern books I'd been reading. The push and pull of mercy and justice, portrayed through a colorful array of characters showed me that the things that best fuel a novel are the most basic of human emotions - like love and greed, and if you can write a story and keep one of those basic emotions at the core of it, then it will last forever.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger- This is one of the few books I read in school that I read for pleasure as much as for the grade. This is the book that made me realize how much I appreciated reading a story through the perspective of a young adult, of someone trying to find their way in the world, someone like me. I was immersed in Holden's journey. After I was done reading this I went back to the horror novels I normally enjoyed in my spare time, but I found myself gravitating to ones with younger protagonists. I think the very next book I read was The Talisman by Stephen King, which managed to combine my love of monsters with this new interest of seeing the world through a young person's eyes.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer- When Twilight first came out I refused to read it. Sparkling Vampires, I heard people say and I shook my head. Note the first book on this list. I didn't want to read about watered-down vampires. And, having read it, I will admit the writing isn't the greatest. But, this book opened my eyes to a genre I'd previously been ignoring- Romance. For all of Twilight's flaws it is a captivating love story that I hungrily consumed. From the moment I finished this book I craved love stories.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte-Yes, I did read this partly because Bella reads it in Twilight, I can admit that, and I'm glad I did because it quickly became one of my favorite books. What I loved about this story was the emotional drama. I'd read books with drama in the past, I'd read books that kept me on the edge of my seat, but Wuthering Height was different. The angst between Cathy and Heathcliff, the tension, the way their unhappiness was caused by their own stubbornness and vengeance. It showed that love can be beautiful and tragic at the same time; and that the most interesting thing about a love story is not the love but the journey it takes the characters to find it.

Smokeless Fire by Samantha Young- This is one of the first self-published novels I ever read, and though it had moments where it felt unpolished, it fascinated me. It was a story I easily fell into and it opened my eyes to a new world. This book taught me two things. First, there is a wealth of fabulous self-published stories out their waiting to be discovered. Second, publishing my stories was something that was entirely possible.

Into the Deep by Lauryn April- Yes, my book, and no this isn't shameless self-promotion. This is truly one of the most influential books in my life. Writing Into the Deep, creating that story and publishing it, changed my life. I love that story and being able to share it with people opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Reading the reviews on it helped me become a better writer, and every experience with it pushed me to do more, to write more, to pursue my passion.

Looking at this list I see books from various genre's, written in different styles, different time periods, and published in different ways. If writing this has taught me anything, it's that there's value in reading a variety of books. So, I urge you. Read something different. Go out of your comfort zone. You just might discover something new about yourself.

What books changed your life?

Indie Book Goal 2018