June 26, 2017

Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy Optioned by Back Fence Productions… Next Stop, Hollywood!

Hollywood or Bust!

Three years ago, I finalized the edits on what would become the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy. Having lost my job in December of 2008, I’d found myself with time on my hands and a number of stories in my head. The first complete book I wrote during that period of unemployment will likely never see the light of day. The next three books, however, launched my career as an author.

Since I first published the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy in July of 2011, two of my Estilorian books, Becoming and Defy, have won awards. My books have hit multiple bestseller lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, including breaking the Amazon Top 100. I’ve published a follow-up Estilorian trilogy (the Firstborn Trilogy) and two New Adult Contemporary Romances, For Everly and Meant for Her. My next release, coming in February, 2014, is a New Adult Paranormal Sci-Fi Romance titled Return of the Ascendant.

I say all of this to encourage other writers not to give up. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve great things!

I’ve loved writing all of these different characters and genres, but the Daughters of Saraqael will always hold a special place in my heart. That’s why I’m particularly excited (okay, giddy!) to announce that the trilogy has been optioned by multiple award-winning producer, Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions. Mr. Chenowith has film credits that include work with Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Alec Baldwin, Dan Ackroyd, Christopher Walken, Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina and James Denton, among others. His films have won 11 Best Picture Awards and 29 total awards. I know the Daughters are in great hands!

To celebrate the Daughters of Saraqael taking their first huge step on the path to Hollywood and the big screen, I’m hosting a giveaway. Here’s what you could win:

~ Signed paperbacks of the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy

~ Three bracelets inspired by the books

~ One $10 Amazon gift card

~ YOUR NAME IN THE NEXT ESTILORIAN NOVEL

Pay special attention to that last one. There will be a seventh book in the Estilorian series releasing in 2014. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the books, now’s the time to get started! The first book in the series, Becoming, is on sale for just 99-cents until December 27th. If you want to read the entire trilogy at once, the three-book bundle is only $4.99 during that time. Find out why the Estilorians have been such a big hit with thousands of readers, and please help me celebrate the big news!

Take Advantage of the Big Book Sale!!!

Amazon

BECOMING ~ DAUGHTERS OF SARAQAEL TRILOGY BUNDLE

Barnes and Noble

BECOMING ~ DAUGHTERS OF SARAQAEL TRILOGY BUNDLE

Enter the Giveaway

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12 Blogs of Christmas: Songs of the Season Re-Recorded

Is there anything more identifiable than the strains of the first Christmas carol on the radio to signal the start of the holiday season? Sure, they may drive us nuts by the time Christmas actually rolls around, but there’s no denying that first nostalgic nudge we experience when we hear our favorite holiday songs every year.

As a participant in the 12 Blogs of Christmas, it’s my pleasure to share with you the favorite holiday tunes of eleven of my favorite people (as well as my own). At first I thought that identifying my favorite Christmas carol would be too difficult. Fortunately, having a chance to read through everyone else’s selections helped me narrow it down!

Kicking off this jingle-jangling post is Erica Lucke Dean, blogger, survivor of the Bikini Wax Disaster, and author of To Katie With Love–coming soon from Red Adept Publishing. You’ll find my response to Erica’s Christmas Memories blog here, complete with a childhood Christmas photo. Erica had this to share for my post:

“My mom used to play the Elvis Christmas album over and over again throughout the entire Christmas season. Hers had a skip in the middle of one song, and all these years later, I still sing that song with the skip in it. ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ is the one song on that album that still resonates with me. I love the old Elvis version, but I’m becoming a fan of the brand new Michael Buble version as well.”

Thanks for bringing back the memory of my mom’s record of the Ray Conniff Singers, complete with a skip in the middle of “Jingle Bells,” Erica!

Christmas Red Ribbon

Next on my list is the author of Ragtown, Kelly Stone Gamble, whose Hoover Dam stories evoke great empathy and appreciation for America’s pioneers. When asked about her favorite holiday tune, Kelly said:

“Kelly Gamble loves old rock and roll, and her favorite Christmas song is one that not many have ever heard. ‘I Believe in Santa Claus’ performed by REO Speedwagon always makes me smile, because I do believe that anything is possible.”

You’re right, Kelly…I didn’t know that one, so thanks for alerting me to another great holiday tune! To find out what my favorite Christmas book is, check out Kelly’s blog here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Sharing a love for the classics is fellow Thespian-turned-writer, Karen DeLabar. She had this to share regarding her favorite Christmas song:

“I’m an old fashioned girl, always have been, always will be. My absolute favorite Christmas song is none other than Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’. His dreamy baritone voice wraps around me like a warm, fuzzy blanket on a cold day. The song is poignant, yet hopeful, and if the mood is right will inspire a tear or two to roll down my cheek.”

You’re spot-on, Karen! Find out if my “classic sensibilities” extend to my favorite Christmas movie, which appears in Karen’s 12 Blogs of Christmas post here.

As an added mention in this year’s post, we all wanted to bring attention to Toxic Shock Syndrome, an illness that kills 8 out of 10 people. Karen happens to be one of those who beat the odds! You can learn more about her story here. As a friend following her progress, I can only say she is one of the most positive and courageous people I’ve ever known. She and her family have experienced tremendous physical and financial struggles through this ordeal, and we would love to help support them. If you’d like to help out, you can do so by clicking this button:

Christmas Red Ribbon

My pal D.C. McMillen, author of the Nauti-Lust series, The Rusty Nail and A Decent December, and all-around fun lady, knows what she likes when it comes to Christmas music. Check out her thoughts on “Santa Baby,” a great song choice:

“It confounds me that people waste time wishing for a snow (who the frack wants their streets blanketed in wet, dirty, slippery, slush while they drive to the mall?) or two front teeth (way to set your sights high, kid) when they could be wishing for real stuff? If you ask me, Joan Javits was in the true spirit of Christmas when she wrote ‘Santa Baby.’ After all, isn’t this supposed to be the season of miracles and giving? You have absolutely no better chance of getting the deed to that platinum mine at any other time of year than you do right now. So go on and sip your hot toddy until your insides are warm and your mind is fuzzy, listen to this sexy, sultry song, and think about what it would be like if Santa actually brought you everything you ever wanted for Christmas. Oh, and make sure to envision Santa Claus as the sexiest beast you have ever seen in a red suit. My Santa looks a lot like Jason Statham, and sometimes Robert Downey Jr.

Now for a little Christmas trivia material. ‘Santa Baby’ was originally written in 1953 by a senator’s daughter but not officially recorded until 1957. Eartha Kitts was the first doll to record this smoking hot Christmas song and it has since been covered by everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna to Onyx. That’s right – Onyx.”

I stopped by D.C.’s blog today to share my favorite Christmas drink. I hope you’ll check it out here!

Christmas Red Ribbon

This wouldn’t be a well-rounded post without pointing out the comedic side of holiday music. From Adam Sandler’s famous Hanukkah song to the “Twelve Pains of Christmas,” spoofs abound. One of the more original humorous songs was submitted to me by the talented high fantasy writer, Ciara Ballintyne:

“My favourite Christmas Song is ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ by Frank Kelly. This is NOT your ordinary Twelve Days of Christmas Song and if you haven’t heard it I strongly recommend you find it!”

Well, I just HAD to find this song after Ciara’s recommendation. Check it out if this is new to you…I assure you, it’ll get you laughing! For a glimpse at my holiday decorations, check out Ciara’s post here. You can also pick up a great story for the fantasy fans on your list while on her site.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Next on my “hit parade” is Maureen Hoverdale, a writer and reviewer whose dedication to indie authors warms my heart. I was thrilled when Maureen (a.k.a. @zencherry) told me she was participating in the 12 Blogs of Christmas, and her Christmas song story made me appreciate her all the more!

“Music has always been a part of my life, my mother being a singer back in the day. We’d gather around the piano and if we didn’t harmonize properly, we’d go back and try it again. This was just how things were.

My first-ever stage appearance was a duet with my friend, Sheila, in kindergarten. I was SURE that we were going to rock the house down, and looked at my sparkly costume hanging in the closet every free minute. We practiced ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ over and over again and listened to little Michael Jackson until we were sure we had it right. Jackson 5 was jive, y’all. You just don’t know how much we dug their spangly awesome. Of course, when mom found out we had the Jackson 5 rendition in mind, things changed…but I did get in a ‘Whoa Yeah!’ while I was up there.

Merry Christmas, Raine!”

Merry Christmas, Maureen, and thanks so much for sharing! I gave Maureen some insights on Christmas wardrobe on her blog, if you’d like to check those out here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

When I received the wonderful writer and blogger, Marie Patchen’s, contribution to my favorite Christmas song list, I was so excited! I’ll bet this album brings back memories for most everyone:

“If I were exiled to an island full of unwanted toys, and only allowed to take one Christmas album with me, I’d take ‘A Chipmunk Christmas’ by none other than Alvin and the Chipmunks. And what I mean by that is the iconic 1983 version, which tells the heartwarming tale of how Alvin gave away his prized harmonica to a very sick little boy just before Christmas. This is an album for putting up decorations to, opening presents to, or drinking hot cocoa to while you address envelopes for Christmas cards, all of which I have happily done. Why yes, as a matter of fact it does make me feel like I’m eight years old again. That is why I love it so much!”

I couldn’t agree more, Marie! Thanks for that trip down Memory Lane. I was further able to revisit my childhood by sharing my favorite Christmas cartoon on Marie’s blog here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Natalie Kenney, a writer I envy for her baking skills alone, is a fan of ‘Old City Bar’ by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This song was always big in my mom’s house, so it was fun to take a trip down memory lane! While I couldn’t possibly match Natalie’s baking skills, I did share my favorite Christmas cookie recipe with her on her blog today, found here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Melody-Ann Kauffman is a kindred spirit…a fellow Floridian, writer, blogger, mother and all-around hard worker. I wasn’t surprised to find that her holiday music tastes suit her perfectly!

“My favorite Christmas music is old school Jazz – Louis Armstrong (Satchmo), Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald… this type of music. When my husband and I got married in December, we had a 30 foot Christmas tree and this was the music that we had played. Since that time, the day after Thanksgiving, the tree goes up and the jazz begins to play. We keep that music playing pretty much until after the New Year. Our kids love it. For us it’s a reminder of the simple joys in life.”

Thanks, Melody-Ann. Your comments put me in the mood to listen to that timeless crooner, Frank Sinatra. His upbeat version of ‘Let it Snow’ always brings a smile to my day! And speaking of things that make you smile, why don’t you pop over to Melody-Ann’s blog here featuring favorite Christmas toys?

Christmas Red Ribbon

We somehow managed to wrangle one guy into this wacky bunch of bloggers. Author of Sandcastle and Other Stories as well as a reader and reviewer for www.inclassicstyle.com and fellow animal lover, Justin Bogdanovitch, decided that being one man among so many lovely ladies could never be a bad thing, and he shared this with me regarding his favorite holiday song:

“I love Christmas tunes. I tend to leave them on my random playlists so they pop up all year long. I live in the town Burl Ives retired in and his top holiday single, ‘Have A Holly Jolly Christmas,’ is a constant twinkle here. My favorite holiday single, ‘River,’ sung by Aimee Mann, is in a contemplative style. She makes me meditate about what Christmas means. The Joni Mitchell lyrics are stirring and filled with yearning. Aimee Mann has a deep love of Christmas. She is putting on her 6th Annual Aimee Mann Christmas Show so look for concert dates if she comes close. Aimee Mann’s complete Christmas album is called One More Drifter In The Snow and features a wry and rousing rendition of ‘You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch.’ This album is great, but you can only find ‘River’ on an old Starbucks compilation of Christmas tunes called: Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Look at Amazon for used copies!”

An excellent tip, Justin! Gosh, Ms. Mann has an awesome voice. You had me at “rousing rendition of ‘You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.’” Too fun! For even more fun, check out Justin’s post featuring the 12 Faux Pas of Christmas here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

The last, but certainly not the least, of our Christmas song contributions comes from Amberr Meadows, a wonderful writer hailing from my former stomping grounds of Atlanta, Georgia. I think Amberr’s frank and good-humored sentiments most closely reflect that of most of us:

“I love Christmas Music, even though I can only stand the cheesy classics for a short time. I can only listen to Jingle Bell Rock so many times before I feel like vomiting or pulling my hair out, and if I do any sort of shopping, I’m completely unable to avoid being inundated by corny, cheery Christmas songs designed to distract me from thinking of the painful amounts of money I’m preparing to spend.

There is one song, however, that I don’t tire of, because it invokes the warm feelings of tradition, and completely embodies the spirit of Christmas. If you haven’t heard Carol of the Bells, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy the clip, and Merry Christmas!”

This is a great choice, Amberr! This song is one that really whets the appetite for the holiday season, isn’t it? If you really want to stimulate your appetite, you’ll check out Amberr’s blog here featuring favorite holiday foods, complete with recipes.

Christmas Red Ribbon

So, now we’ve reached number twelve on the list…me! After reading about and listening to everyone else’s choices, I asked myself whether my favorite Christmas tune falls in line with the classic, the nostalgic, the humorous, the rock-n-roll or the jazzy. In the end, it was a combination of all of the above. My favorite Christmas song is…drum roll please…

Yep! Bob Seger’s “The Little Drummer Boy.” I love the story behind the song, as well as the message that it isn’t about the value of a gift, it’s about the thought and heart behind it. Add in Seger’s raspy, rockin’ groove, and you’ve got a hit!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this segment of the 12 Blogs of Christmas. Please stop by and check out the companion blogs of all of these wonderful folks…and let me know what song is YOUR favorite!

Sample 14 Bestselling Books, Earn a Chance for a Kindle Fire HD!

This holiday season, I’m excited to be collaborating with 14 other bestselling YA authors on a project we’ve titled Jingle all the YA. Featuring samples from one of each of our books, Jingle all the YA offers readers the chance to get familiar with new authors for FREE! On top of that, we’ve included a contest inside the book that will award one lucky winner a Kindle Fire HD ($199) or an ereader of his or her choice (up to $200 value).

It’s easy to enter! Here’s how it works:

1) Download the free ebook on Amazon or Kobo.
2) Find the secret phrase (hint: there is one letter or punctuation mark bolded in each book, spelling out the phrase).
3) Enter the secret phrase (14 characters) into the contest link embedded in the ebook.

**Contest ends on Dec 31st. Winner will be announced on Jan 7th.**

Book description

Curl up this holiday season and sample some bestselling young adult books. Fourteen YA authors compiled this special gift for their readers. The holiday sampler includes excerpts from YA’s bestselling books – all wrapped up in one neat little package! Whether you like paranormal, romance, mythology, or thrillers, Jingle all the YA gives you a taste of it all.

This sampler includes:

Chelsea M. Cameron’s Nocturnal- When seventeen-year-old Ava-Claire Sullivan meets a mysterious boy in a cemetery who isn’t human, she’ll have to decide whether a relationship with him is worth the risk to her own mortality.

GP Ching’s Grounded – A modest seventeen-year-old girl discovers she’s the product of a government experiment, when her father’s illness causes her to leave her isolated community.

Shelly Crane’s Significance – Because you are my significant, my soul mate, and I’m yours.

Chelsea Fine’s Anew – Sometimes love is meant to be, but sometimes…love is the death of you.

Jessie Harrell’s Destined – When Psyche destroys the one relationship she can’t live without, she must journey alone through ancient Greece and face the wrath of the gods if she wants to reclaim an immortal love.

Ella James’ Here – Milo Mitchell’s life used to be charmed, but that was before her family dissolved, she went a little crazy, and her best friends started acting more like strangers.

S.R. Johannes’ Untraceable – When Grace’s forest ranger father goes, missing, she fights officials and nature to find out what happened, uncovering a conspiracy that changes her small town forever.

Tiffany King’s Forever Changed – Kassandra Cole’s entire world is shaken to the core when a fatal accident takes her father, causing her to re-examine the course of her life.

M. Leighton’s Fragile – Her heart, as delicate as glass. His love, as strong as steel. Can either survive life and death?

Addison Moore’s Ethereal – An entire faction of earthbound angels wants 16 year-old Skyla Messenger dead. At least she still has Logan, a boy who shares her gift of telepathy. Or does she?

Jessica Sorenson’s Ember – What if you knew when someone was going to die?

Raine Thomas’ Becoming – Beings of myth and legend all have one thing in common: they exist. They’re called Estilorians. Amber Hopkins is one of them. Well, half of one anyway. If only she knew it.

RaShelle Workman’s Exiled – Worlds divided them. Chance brought them together. Only love will save them.

Samantha Young’s Smokeless Fire – One girl’s fiery battle with ancient deadly creatures, epic family drama and heart-wrenching romantic entanglements.

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Don’t Miss the DEFY Trailer and a Chance for Great Swag!

Ahh, swag. Just the word has my imagination leaping! Bringing to mind strapping, swashbuckling pirates stowing their ill-gotten loot in mysterious lairs, swag was simply a must-have once I became a published author.

Of course, swag costs money. Most authors just starting out don’t have hundreds (or more) dollars to dole out on promotional items, and I was no exception. Fortunately, with a few book sales now under my sword-bearing belt (okay, not really–but it could be), I can now present some lovely swag to my Estilorian fans!

With Defy‘s release just days away, I wanted to do something to capture the interest of my existing fans, and hopefully entice a few new ones. What I’d like to do is offer a giveaway. This giveaway will include some swag, some of which includes the following items:

(Did you notice the “I Want My Own Gloresti” buttons)?? I’ve also got some super-cool magnets. The other part of the giveaway is the winner’s choice of a signed paperback of Becoming or the entire Daughters of Saraqael trilogy in eBook format. If you already happen to have the entire trilogy in eBook format AND a signed copy of Becoming, I’ll offer you a signed copy of Defy instead. Read on to find out how to enter!

Starting this Monday, April 30th (Defy‘s release date) and running until May 12th, there’s going to be a big Defy blog tour hosted by YA Bound that will involve lots of other great prizes and giveaways. Tune back into my blog on Monday for more details on that.

If you haven’t already seen the amazing Defy book trailer created by FLATLINE FILMS, I hope you’ll check it out now:

Isn’t it awesome? And now…how to enter the swag-and-free-book giveaway! The only thing you have to do to qualify is comment on this blog post with the reason you want to win. Do you love the Estilorians? What do you love about them? Have you never read my books but find yourself interested in doing so? What captured your interest?

For extra entries in the giveaway, you can review Becoming, Central and/or Foretold on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble (assuming you’ve read them, of course) and let me know that you did so. Each (hopefully positive!) review will count as a separate entry in the giveaway. I’ll select the winner on Monday the 30th.

Thanks so much to everyone for the unbelievable support! I’m so excited about Defy‘s launch, and I can’t tell my fans often enough how much your encouragement means to me. Good luck to everyone who enters!

Cover Reveal: #Defy (Firstborn Trilogy Book One)

I’ve never considered myself challenged when it comes to keeping surprises, but having to wait over a month before releasing the cover of Defy has definitely tested my willpower! It has helped to have the involvement of wonderful book bloggers and fellow writers participating in the release. They’ve all seen the cover and gushed appropriately, which has curbed my desire to share it with the world…a little.

I’d love to give a huge thank you to Trisha Wolfe over at YA Bound for helping me with not only the cover reveal tour, but the upcoming book launch tour for Defy (4/30-5/12).  And another round of thanks goes out to all of these wonderful cover reveal participants. Thank you for helping me generate all the Defy fanfare we can muster!

A Book-a-licious Story, A Diary of a Book Addict, A Pocket Full of Books, Always YA at Heart, Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile, Behind a Million and One Pages, Bethany Lopez, Book Briefs, Bookmarks & Bookshelves, BookSpark, Bundle of Books 101, Chapter by Chapter, Dream Reads, Ed and Em Reviews, Epilogue Review, Every Free Chance Book Reviews, Fiktshun, Hackaroos Reviews, Hey It’s Fishy, I Heart YA Books, Ivy Reads, Jess’s Book Blog, Jessy’s Bookends, JJ iReads, Journey with Books, Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands, Love of Books 409, Lover of Paranormal and Indies, Making the Grade, Melody with Words, Mr. Book Wonder, Open Book Society, Paranormal Book Fan, Proserpine Craving Books, Rai29 Book Read and Review, Sarah’s Books and Life, Shadow Kisses Book Reviews, Storybook Escape, Stuck in Books, The Bibliophile’s Corner, The Book Galaxy, The Book Hookup, The Reader’s Antidote, Twimom101 Book Blog, Unreality, We Fancy Books, Winter Haven Books, Writing on the Sunny Side of the Street, YA-Aholic, and Zoey’s Uncreatively Titled Blog.

And now the big day is here! What better way to honor the cover reveal of Defy than with an interview with my remarkably talented cover designer, Devan Edwards of Nimbi Design? Here are more juicy details about this person you absolutely have to get to know:

Bio: I’m Devan Edwards. I started up Nimbi Design a few years ago, as a way to have a fun creative outlet for all the different things I enjoy. Nimbi is plural for Nimbus Cloud. The name felt appropriate for living in the NW, where it rains about 7-8 months out of the year–plus, clouds are so cute. I graduated from PNCA in Portland, OR in 2008, and have worked as a Graphic Designer for Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, and am currently a UX/UI Designer for eBay Mobile in Portland.

Nimbi is a fun way for me to be more “crafty” and less technical with the skills I’ve learned through the years, and a way for me to explore other creative outlets using my hands and tools and not just a computer. I do an array of different things and sell them on my online Etsy shop. I make custom letterpress stationery, invitations (digital and layered), glass and metal jewelry, feather and flower hairpieces, greeting cards, needle felt, plushies and more. I do some sewing and just love to mess around with different things that I have in my “Tiffany” colored craft room. My latest and busiest freelance work has become book cover design. I have to say, I absolutely love it and am so grateful for falling upon it!

Now tell us something about you that your bio doesn’t include. Feel free to make us laugh!

I love the outdoors and fly-fishing. It’s my happy place, being on the river with my fly rod, something I’ve done since I was little. Other than that, I am completely obsessed with my Boston Terrier, Mac. I named him after two things I’m obsessed with: Apple and Mac makeup. I thought it might be a good idea to get a girl French Bulldog one day too, to be his friend. I discussed names with my Mom, and thought Tosh would be funny, so that I had Mac ‘n Tosh. (Get it?). Then my mom suggested I name her Fromage. Which is French for “Cheese.” My mom is witty. :)

How did you get into book cover design?

A friend of mine that worked with me at Walt Disney World contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in taking on a freelance job designing a book cover for an author. I said “Yes!” Met Raine, and created her first trilogy, The Daughters of Saraqael. I enjoyed it so much, and felt like the design just came together like clockwork. From that and Raine’s fabulous networking skills and my blog, I quickly started getting contacted by other authors wanting to get me to do their next books. Since the first trilogy, I’ve finished eight book covers, and have five currently in progress with talk of more in the next couple of months.

Tell us about some of the challenges you face in designing book covers. What can your clients do to make it a little easier on you?

The hardest part is that typically my only interaction with the author is via e-mail. Most of my clients are in another city or state. I think the fact that I’m able to produce what they want says a lot about my communication, but sometimes it gets difficult to really know what someone is wanting or envisioning when they aren’t there to physically describe something to you. I enjoy working with authors on Skype, sending them files through Skype while I’m working, and being in constant communication. It’s also hard if someone doesn’t realize that book design isn’t my first and only job (hasn’t been too much of a problem yet, thankfully). I work full time 40+ hours a week, and am running my own business at home that also requires my time, not to mention my furbabies and family time. I think as long as authors give me plenty of time to work with them, and don’t expect a cover in just a couple weeks, they’ll be happy and I’ll be stress free. I really enjoy doing this work, and it’s extremely gratifying to me to give an author their vision as an image, and something they and I can both be proud to share.

Which has been your favorite book cover to design and why?

All of them (obviously). I think they all have had unique things brought to the table that challenged me in one way or another. The trickiest and most gratifying so far probably has to be Defy. That hair and model were tricky to work with, and I honestly didn’t know how I was going to pull off the look of her hair, and then…it just worked, and it was pretty awesome! I really enjoy doing scenery too, and I really enjoyed designing the cover for Blood Oath by T.L. Clarke. Creating the mist and having all the details of the girl and the background were really fun to create.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received regarding your cover design work?

I love seeing the feedback on sites like Amazon, or reading tweets to authors tagging me. One of the best compliments I had was when someone commented on Raine’s first book, Becoming, and said that the cover is what drew her in, to want to look into the book and read, then once they read they were hooked. That let me know that I did my job for Raine. I was able to draw someone in by first glance, to make her think “Ooh what’s this?”, letting Raine’s words take it from there. I also absolutely love the “Eeek!” and “OH MY GOODNESS!” and “This is PERFECT!” that I get from my authors…it makes me happy that they are so happy.

Some authors design their own book covers for monetary reasons.  Can you offer them a word of advice to help them achieve the best cover possible outside of hiring a (totally amazing) professional like you?

Keep it simple. The worst thing you can do is use too much imagery on a cover, especially if you aren’t as savvy with programs like Photoshop to manipulate images in a good, crisp way. So, doing things like finding a great photo on a website like iStockphoto.com or something similar can make a huge difference. Also, pay attention to colors and lighting. Reference other books you like and take cues from them. Sometimes black and white imagery can instantly create drama, where a lot of bright colors can show fun and adventure.

Where can we stalk find you?

I am everywhere. On Twitter you can find me @devanescence, Facebook at Nimbi Design, and my blog, which has links to a lot of what I do, including book covers. I try to keep it fun and interesting! I’d also love more followers and comments on my blog/posts, to make it a bigger and more interactive blog. You can also shop on my Etsy shop. I have all kinds of fun things on there and LOVE taking on custom orders. There isn’t a whole lot I can’t try to create and work with, so always feel free to contact me or message me for advice or questions, etc.

Thanks so much, Devan! You know how much I <3 you, gal. You’ve made the self-publishing journey wonderfully fun!

And now, I’d love to present the cover that proved to be such a challenge for my brilliant cover designer…Defy!

Seventeen-year-old Tate is about to make her parents’ dreams come true. Unfortunately for her, their dreams foretell her death.

Eager to explore more of the Estilorian plane and prove her abilities, Tate goes against her parents’ wishes and leaves the area of protection surrounding her home. Her choice puts her on a deadly path…one that leaves her alone, severely injured and battling for her life.

Her possible savior arrives in the form of Zachariah, a male who has removed himself from Estilorian society for more than fifty years. Fighting an unexpected connection to Tate, he must decide whether saving her life is worth destroying his.

As Tate struggles to find a way home, she ends up drawn into a dark Mercesti plot involving multiple murders and a powerful ancient artifact. With the unpredictable Zachariah as her only source for aid, she’ll soon find out if her abilities are strong enough to help her defy her Fate.

Don’t forget to add Defy to your Goodreads To-Read list!

An Indie Author’s Journey: What I’ve Learned

Today’s my birthday! *tosses confetti*

Hey, um, will someone sweep that up later?

Any-who…there’s something about grown-up birthdays that prompts you to evaluate your life. Since my birthday coincides with the passing of my books’ six-month mark since publication, I thought this would be a great time to fill you in on how things are going and what I’ve learned.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Although I wrote several full-length novels that will never be published, I went into the plotting and planning of the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy with the full intent of it being published. At the time, I thought that meant traditional publication.

Oh, how much things have changed.

Before last year, I had a whole different mindset about traditional publishing versus self-publishing. I was sadly uneducated about the ins and outs of both worlds. But I’ve always loved learning, so I took it upon myself to become more knowledgeable.

First, I learned how to write a synopsis, a book summary and a query letter. Then I went through the process of researching literary agents, and learned how to craft my query letter to best suit them. During this time, I also learned how to deal with rejection.

It was during the weeks that passed between the time a query was sent out and the rejection response came back that I began exploring self-publishing. I’m the first to admit that the image I had of self-publishing ran along the lines of vanity presses. Fortunately, times are changing, and so is the face of self-publishing.

Not long after I received a rejection from an agent who had taken more than three months to review a partial of Becoming, I made a decision that would change my life: I was going to become an indie author.

Fortunately, my husband fully supported my decision. Heck, he’d been telling me for weeks to go for it. Even though we didn’t have the money, he handed me a credit card and told me to find a cover designer because he was going to start formatting the books for publication. He helped me create a website and we spent hours every evening educating ourselves on the world of indie publishing.

I created a Twitter account last June. I went into it with a great deal of trepidation and complete ignorance of this fast-moving social medium. I was baffled by its mysterious hashtags and acronyms, and I had no idea how to get people to follow me or what to tweet. I still remember those early awkward days of tweeting quotes just because I didn’t know what in the world I was doing. Fun times.

While I was more familiar with Facebook, maintaining an author presence through this particular social network was obviously new to me. I’m only now really beginning to tap into Facebook and its amazing potential. But one thing at a time, as they say.

The Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy was published on July 24th. I had about ten Facebook friends and less than 100 Twitter followers. I had belonged to Goodreads for all of a month and didn’t have a clue what purpose it would serve. This was the extent of my social media network.

Cringing yet? If not, you should be.

The fact is, no one will believe in your work unless you do. And I went into this believing that my books are worth reading. I guess that came across to some folks as I clumsily and naively stumbled through building my author presence, and I will always be grateful to those early followers who have been with me through this amazing journey. You know who you are…and if you don’t, I hope you read the Acknowledgements page of Defy when it’s released in a couple months.

So, what did this newbie indie author manage to accomplish in the past six months (mind you, while working full-time as a wedding planner and continuing to raise a family)?

Here are the highlights:

- As of today, I’m just shy of 10,000 total book sales

- The books have maintained 5-star ratings on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and between 4 and 5 stars on Goodreads (with more than 200 reviews of Becoming alone)

- Becoming reached #15 on Amazon’s Paid Kindle Books list in the Romance->Fantasy category

- Including book reviews, author interviews and guest posts, the books have been featured more than 60 times on blogs around the ‘Net

- I’ve surpassed 4,000 followers on Twitter, 700 friends on Goodreads and 230 friends on Facebook (and I look forward to meeting more great folks!)

- I’ve joined Triberr, Google+, Pinterest, YALITCHAT, and the truly awesome team at The Writer’s Voice

- I wrote and published an Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, and I’m nearly done with book two of my follow-up Firstborn Trilogy

So there you have it! While I know I still have a lot to learn and I’ve only begun to tap into the potential marketing avenues for my books, it’s great to look back and see how far I’ve already come. Somehow, I’ve made this work. What I’m hoping this tells you is that if I can do it, you can, too!

On that note, I’ll leave you with just a few things I’ve learned that I hope will help some of you, too:

1. What works for one author might not work for you. This business involves a lot of trial and error. Don’t be discouraged if you try a marketing strategy that worked for someone else and it doesn’t work for you. Learn from that and adapt their strategies to suit you.

2. If you want to make money as a self-published author, you have to invest in yourself. Hire an editor…and I don’t mean your best friend’s cousin who gets good grades in English. I mean a professional editor. And if you don’t have a degree in design, hire a great cover designer, even if you’re “only” publishing e-books. And that leads me to…

3. Devan Edwards of Nimbi Design is most awesome. The majority of my first Twitter followers commented on my avatar. Because I didn’t have a professional head shot at the time, I opted to use Becoming‘s cover as my avatar. It was the best thing I could have done. For this, I owe my brilliant cover designer huge props.

4. Network, network, network. Stay in touch with fellow authors, avid readers, and bloggers. Join as many social networking sites as you can handle and participate as much as possible. Note: this doesn’t mean promoting yourself at every opportunity; rather, do what you can to help others!

5. Write every day. Whether it’s a new paragraph on your WIP, a blog post, or an e-mail to a fan, write something every day that advances your writing career.

6. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s important to set goals, and we should strive to achieve them or they serve no purpose. But most indie authors are also full-time “something elses,” whether it’s another career, a spouse, a parent, etc. Acknowledge that life happens and just do the best you can. If you persevere, you’ll reach that goal!

Phew. That was quite the blog, eh? Thanks so much for reading to this point. If you have more tips that you’d like to share, I welcome your comments. For now, I’ll sign off with another round of thanks to everyone who has helped make these past six months the best birthday present I’ve ever received. You’re awesome!

Raine Gives Back: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

It’s so hard to believe that 2011 will be rolling to a close in just a few days. This has been a whirlwind year with so many wonderful experiences, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 will bring! For me, personally, these are the top five highlights from 2011:

5. Finally getting to see an Atlanta Braves spring training game at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports
4. Coordinating my 100th wedding and publishing a nonfiction book for wedding vendors
3. Buying a new house and moving into it
2. My daughter’s graduation from VPK and her first day of Kindergarten
1. Publication of the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy

There are other highlights, of course, not the least of which is joining Twitter and Triberr and connecting with so many awesome people. In the new year, I’m inviting some of the amazing writers I’ve connected with to participate in my blog, so be on the lookout for interviews and guest posts to come. I’m very grateful to everyone who invited me to participate on their blogs this year and look forward to returning the nod!

St Jude Childrens Research Hospital Lastly, a 2011 accomplishment that has a lot of meaning to me is the establishment of the Raine Gives Back initiative. I’ve donated 5% of my net earnings from book sales each month to a different cause, beginning in October. The very worthy cause receiving a donation in December is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a suggestion offered to me by author Sara Reine. My donation will be made in Sara’s name once December’s sales numbers are finalized.

Do you have a cause that you feel is worthy of a donation from Raine Gives Back? If so, please comment and tell me more. I’m looking forward to contributing to many great causes in the new year, and, as always, I thank you for your support!

12 Blogs of Christmas: Songs of the Season

Is there anything more identifiable than the strains of the first Christmas carol on the radio to signal the start of the holiday season? Sure, they may drive us nuts by the time Christmas actually rolls around, but there’s no denying that first nostalgic nudge we experience when we hear our favorite holiday songs every year.

As a participant in the 12 Blogs of Christmas, it’s my pleasure to share with you the favorite holiday tunes of eleven of my favorite people (as well as my own). At first I thought that identifying my favorite Christmas carol would be too difficult. Fortunately, having a chance to read through everyone else’s selections helped me narrow it down!

Kicking off this jingle-jangling post is Erica Lucke Dean, writer, blogger and survivor of the Bikini Wax Disaster. You’ll find my response to Erica’s Christmas Memories blog here, complete with a childhood Christmas photo. Erica had this to share for my post:

“My mom used to play the Elvis Christmas album over and over again throughout the entire Christmas season. Hers had a skip in the middle of one song, and all these years later, I still sing that song with the skip in it. ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ is the one song on that album that still resonates with me. I love the old Elvis version, but I’m becoming a fan of the brand new Michael Buble version as well.”

Thanks for bringing back the memory of my mom’s record of the Ray Conniff Singers, complete with a skip in the middle of “Jingle Bells,” Erica!

Christmas Red Ribbon

Next on my list is renowned writer Kelly Stone Gamble, whose Hoover Dam stories evoke great empathy and appreciation for America’s pioneers. When asked about her favorite holiday tune, Kelly said:

“Kelly Gamble loves old rock and roll, and her favorite Christmas song is one that not many have ever heard. ‘I Believe in Santa Claus’ performed by REO Speedwagon always makes me smile, because I do believe that anything is possible.”

You’re right, Kelly…I didn’t know that one, so thanks for alerting me to another great holiday tune! To find out what my favorite Christmas book is, check out Kelly’s blog here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Sharing a love for the classics is fellow Thespian-turned-writer, Karen DeLabar. She had this to share regarding her favorite Christmas song:

“I’m an old fashioned girl, always have been, always will be. My absolute favorite Christmas song is none other than Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’. His dreamy baritone voice wraps around me like a warm, fuzzy blanket on a cold day. The song is poignant, yet hopeful, and if the mood is right will inspire a tear or two to roll down my cheek.”

You’re spot-on, Karen! Find out if my “classic sensibilities” extend to my favorite Christmas movie, which appears in Karen’s 12 Blogs of Christmas post here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

My pal D.C. McMillen, author of the Nauti-Lust series and all-around fun lady, knows what she likes when it comes to Christmas music. Check out her thoughts on “Santa Baby,” a great song choice:

“It confounds me that people waste time wishing for a snow (who the frack wants their streets blanketed in wet, dirty, slippery, slush while they drive to the mall?) or two front teeth (way to set your sights high, kid) when they could be wishing for real stuff? If you ask me, Joan Javits was in the true spirit of Christmas when she wrote ‘Santa Baby.’ After all, isn’t this supposed to be the season of miracles and giving? You have absolutely no better chance of getting the deed to that platinum mine at any other time of year than you do right now. So go on and sip your hot toddy until your insides are warm and your mind is fuzzy, listen to this sexy, sultry song, and think about what it would be like if Santa actually brought you everything you ever wanted for Christmas. Oh, and make sure to envision Santa Claus as the sexiest beast you have ever seen in a red suit. My Santa looks a lot like Jason Statham, and sometimes Robert Downey Jr.

Now for a little Christmas trivia material. ‘Santa Baby’ was originally written in 1953 by a senator’s daughter but not officially recorded until 1957. Eartha Kitts was the first doll to record this smoking hot Christmas song and it has since been covered by everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna to Onyx. That’s right – Onyx.”

I stopped by D.C.’s blog today to share my favorite Christmas drink. I hope you’ll check it out here!

Christmas Red Ribbon

This wouldn’t be a well-rounded post without pointing out the comedic side of holiday music. From Adam Sandler’s famous Hanukkah song to the “Twelve Pains of Christmas,” spoofs abound. One of the more original humorous songs was submitted to me by the talented high fantasy writer, Ciara Ballintyne:

“My favourite Christmas Song is ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ by Frank Kelly. This is NOT your ordinary Twelve Days of Christmas Song and if you haven’t heard it I strongly recommend you find it!”

Well, I just HAD to find this song after Ciara’s recommendation. Check it out if this is new to you…I assure you, it’ll get you laughing! And for a glimpse at my holiday decorations, check out Ciara’s post here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Next on my “hit parade” is Maureen Hoverdale, a writer and reviewer whose dedication to indie authors warms my heart. I was thrilled when Maureen (a.k.a. @zencherry) told me she was participating in the 12 Blogs of Christmas, and her Christmas song story made me appreciate her all the more!

“Music has always been a part of my life, my mother being a singer back in the day. We’d gather around the piano and if we didn’t harmonize properly, we’d go back and try it again. This was just how things were.

My first-ever stage appearance was a duet with my friend, Sheila, in kindergarten. I was SURE that we were going to rock the house down, and looked at my sparkly costume hanging in the closet every free minute. We practiced ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ over and over again and listened to little Michael Jackson until we were sure we had it right. Jackson 5 was jive, y’all. You just don’t know how much we dug their spangly awesome. Of course, when mom found out we had the Jackson 5 rendition in mind, things changed…but I did get in a ‘Whoa Yeah!’ while I was up there.

Merry Christmas, Raine!”

Merry Christmas, Maureen, and thanks so much for sharing! I gave Maureen some insights on Christmas wardrobe on her blog, if you’d like to check those out here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

When I received the wonderful writer and blogger, Marie Patchen’s, contribution to my favorite Christmas song list, I was so excited! I’ll bet this album brings back memories for most everyone:

“If I were exiled to an island full of unwanted toys, and only allowed to take one Christmas album with me, I’d take ‘A Chipmunk Christmas’ by none other than Alvin and the Chipmunks. And what I mean by that is the iconic 1983 version, which tells the heartwarming tale of how Alvin gave away his prized harmonica to a very sick little boy just before Christmas. This is an album for putting up decorations to, opening presents to, or drinking hot cocoa to while you address envelopes for Christmas cards, all of which I have happily done. Why yes, as a matter of fact it does make me feel like I’m eight years old again. That is why I love it so much!”

I couldn’t agree more, Marie! Thanks for that trip down Memory Lane. I was further able to revisit my childhood by sharing my favorite Christmas cartoon on Marie’s blog here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Natalie Kenney, a writer I envy for her baking skills alone, is a fan of ‘Old City Bar’ by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This song was always big in my mom’s house, so it was fun to take a trip down memory lane! While I couldn’t possibly match Natalie’s baking skills, I did share my favorite Christmas cookie recipe with her on her blog today, found here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

Melody-Ann Kauffman is a kindred spirit…a fellow Floridian, writer, blogger, mother and all-around hard worker. I wasn’t surprised to find that her holiday music tastes suit her perfectly!

“My favorite Christmas music is old school Jazz – Louis Armstrong (Satchmo), Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald… this type of music. When my husband and I got married in December, we had a 30 foot Christmas tree and this was the music that we had played. Since that time, the day after Thanksgiving, the tree goes up and the jazz begins to play. We keep that music playing pretty much until after the New Year. Our kids love it. For us it’s a reminder of the simple joys in life.”

Thanks, Melody-Ann. Your comments put me in the mood to listen to that timeless crooner, Frank Sinatra. His upbeat version of ‘Let it Snow’ always brings a smile to my day! And speaking of things that make you smile, why don’t you pop over to Melody-Ann’s blog here featuring favorite Christmas toys?

Christmas Red Ribbon

We somehow managed to wrangle one guy into this wacky bunch of bloggers. Writer, reader, reviewer for www.inclassicstyle.com and fellow animal lover, Justin Bogdanovitch, decided that being one man among so many lovely ladies could never be a bad thing, and he shared this with me regarding his favorite holiday song:

“I love Christmas tunes. I tend to leave them on my random playlists so they pop up all year long. I live in the town Burl Ives retired in and his top holiday single, ‘Have A Holly Jolly Christmas,’ is a constant twinkle here. My favorite holiday single, ‘River,’ sung by Aimee Mann, is in a contemplative style. She makes me meditate about what Christmas means. The Joni Mitchell lyrics are stirring and filled with yearning. Aimee Mann has a deep love of Christmas. She is putting on her 6th Annual Aimee Mann Christmas Show so look for concert dates if she comes close. Aimee Mann’s complete Christmas album is called One More Drifter In The Snow and features a wry and rousing rendition of ‘You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch.’ This album is great, but you can only find ‘River’ on an old Starbucks compilation of Christmas tunes called: Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Look at Amazon for used copies!”

An excellent tip, Justin! Gosh, Ms. Mann has an awesome voice. You had me at “rousing rendition of ‘You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.’” Too fun! For even more fun, check out Justin’s post featuring the 12 Faux Pas of Christmas here.

Christmas Red Ribbon

The last, but certainly not the least, of our Christmas song contributions comes from Amberr Meadows, a wonderful writer hailing from my former stomping grounds of Atlanta, Georgia. I think Amberr’s frank and good-humored sentiments most closely reflect that of most of us:

“I love Christmas Music, even though I can only stand the cheesy classics for a short time. I can only listen to Jingle Bell Rock so many times before I feel like vomiting or pulling my hair out, and if I do any sort of shopping, I’m completely unable to avoid being inundated by corny, cheery Christmas songs designed to distract me from thinking of the painful amounts of money I’m preparing to spend.

There is one song, however, that I don’t tire of, because it invokes the warm feelings of tradition, and completely embodies the spirit of Christmas. If you haven’t heard Carol of the Bells, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy the clip, and Merry Christmas!”

This is a great choice, Amberr! This song is one that really whets the appetite for the holiday season, isn’t it? If you really want to stimulate your appetite, you’ll check out Amberr’s blog here featuring favorite holiday foods, complete with recipes.

Christmas Red Ribbon

So, now we’ve reached number twelve on the list…me! After reading about and listening to everyone else’s choices, I asked myself whether my favorite Christmas tune falls in line with the classic, the nostalgic, the humorous, the rock-n-roll or the jazzy. In the end, it was a combination of all of the above. My favorite Christmas song is…drum roll please…

Yep! Bob Seger’s “The Little Drummer Boy.” I love the story behind the song, as well as the message that it isn’t about the value of a gift, it’s about the thought and heart behind it. Add in Seger’s raspy, rockin’ groove, and you’ve got a hit!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this segment of the 12 Blogs of Christmas. Please stop by and check out the companion blogs of all of these wonderful folks…and let me know what song is YOUR favorite!

New Short Story and Four Months of Thanks

Four months ago almost to the day, I sat in front of the computer with my husband. We had just spent two months preparing the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy for publication. After trudging down the long road of traditional publishing, attempting and failing to catch the attention of literary agents, I had decided to take the plunge into the world of indie publishing.

But reality hit as we sat in front of that computer screen. With a click of the mouse, Becoming would be uploaded to Smashwords, followed by uploads to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. There was really no turning back once we did this.

We exchanged looks. We grinned like idiots. And we clicked PUBLISH. Then I’m pretty sure we indulged in an adult beverage or two to celebrate, never thinking we had made the wrong decision.

So…here I sit, four months later, once again in front of the computer. And I’m giving my books their four-month check-up. Have I now changed my mind, you might ask? Did I make the right choice in choosing to self-publish?

It’s interesting. Everyone has a different measure of success. For some, you’re not successful unless you’re accepted and published by a traditional publisher and your books appear on the shelves of the local bookstore. For others, the only true measure of success might involve books being on The New York Times Bestseller List.

Personally, I think a writer’s success begins the moment she puts a pen to the page. That’s the moment where she’s committing to telling her story, the moment where her soul starts seeping onto the page. Her success grows with each written word, and blossoms once those words are shared with others.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve engaged with a couple of very talented writers who were brought low by disappointments in their careers. One had just received a rejection by a literary agent and the other felt that no one wanted to hear what she had to say, nearly giving up writing altogether. Fortunately, both rebounded from their individual setbacks. To me, they’re both successful just for writing and persevering.

In using this particular yard stick, the Daughters of Saraqael books have certainly been successful. But is just being complete and published works enough to consider these indie-pubbed books a “success?” Some would argue no.

Thus, since I’m doing my four-month check-up here, I’ll mention that to date, the books have exceeded 5,500 sales. Becoming has reached #15 on Amazon’s Kindle Bestseller list in the Romance/Fantasy & Futuristic category. This past weekend, it was at #715 overall in Paid Kindle Books–a category that contains hundreds of thousands of titles.

To say I’m grateful to my readers would be the understatement of the year, but especially in the week of Thanksgiving, I absolutely have to say it: thank you!

Thank you to everyone who has bought my books. A special thanks goes out to everyone who has also supported me and my work via blog posts, tweeting or Facebooking, liking and/or reviewing on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and rating and reviewing on Goodreads. Every single effort has contributed to the success over the past four months, and there aren’t enough words to express my gratitude.

Also, here at the mark of the four-month anniversary of the publication of the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy, I’m pleased to announce the forthcoming launch of my first Estilorian short story, The Prophecy. This coming Monday, November 28th, The Prophecy will be made available for free download via Smashwords, followed by Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

When the Daughters of Saraqael books were first released, one of the most common things I heard was that readers wanted to hear more about Saraqael and Kate. So when I decided to release short stories between writing the books in the forthcoming Firstborn trilogy, I balanced this popular reader request with a tie-in to the new books. The Prophecy centers on Saraqael’s quest and also includes his best friend, Quincy, one of the central characters in the Firstborn trilogy.

Without further ado, I leave you with another resounding thanks, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving and presenting you with a teaser for The Prophecy, coming soon to e-readers near you…

 
THE PROPHECY

“I love her, Quincy.”

Looking up from the medical journal in front of him, Quincy blinked and caught the gaze of his best friend, Saraqael. He reasoned he had been distracted by his studies, because he surely hadn’t heard correctly. “What was that?”

Saraqael grinned, a very rare thing to see on the Estilorian plane. “You heard me. And I would appreciate you keeping this to yourself. Try not to let the Orculesti or Wymzesti get into your head. They will certainly try to stop me.”

Quincy let his hand slide from the pages of the journal to the top of his well-worn table, his studies forgotten. “You mean…the female you met on the human plane?”

“Yes. Her name is Kate. And I need your help.”

“My help?”

Quincy knew he sounded ridiculous, echoing everything his friend said. But this made no sense. Estilorians didn’t fall in love. Estilorians, in point of fact, barely knew what it meant to like. Ever since the nine Estilorian elders had joined together to create a separate plane of existence from humanity more than two millennia ago, the understanding and experiencing of emotions among Estilorians had greatly diminished. Now, the only emotions generally exhibited were negative, such as jealousy, anger, competitiveness and fear.

Only the Corgloresti class had the ability to transition between the Estilorian and human planes. As members of this class, Quincy and Saraqael both now understood the dramatic differences between emotional humans and their own kind. Like Saraqael, Quincy had crossed the planes only twice so far because he was so young—just over two centuries. But it had been enough for him to understand the dire results of the elders’ choice. It hadn’t been known that Estilorians were inherently unemotional beings until it was too late.

So to hear that Saraqael thought himself in love…well, it confounded him.

Because Quincy’s quarters weren’t very large, Saraqael walked four paces and then turned and strode the other way as he paced in front of the table. He ran his hand through his dark hair in a way that seemed to communicate agitation or impatience. Corgloresti were trained in how to interpret body language to aid them in their time on the human plane, since they were largely unable to experience emotion themselves. While some of what he had learned from his Estilorian teachers had been a bit off, Quincy’s experiences among humans during his first two transitions gave him confidence in his interpretation of his friend’s behavior.

“Yes, I need your help, my friend,” Saraqael said now as he paced. “You have trained in the human medical sciences so that you can assume the form of a physician on the human plane. You know that I chose to focus on human theology in my studies, which is of little use to me now. I am in need of a solution to save Kate’s life, and I have nowhere else to turn.”

“Saraqael…” Quincy trailed off, uncertain what to say. Eventually, he hazarded, “We were trained not to become attached to those we choose to Embrace. Though I know it has proven challenging for the two of us, most Corgloresti distance themselves as a matter of instinct.” Again, he hesitated, watching his friend pace. “Do you really believe that she will unquestionably accept the fact that you are a non-human being with exceptional powers and the ability to fly? A being that can live for centuries without aging?”

“Yes.”

That gave Quincy pause. Despite his friend’s conviction, he felt compelled to point out, “You know once you mark a human soul for transitioning into an Estilorian form that you are the only one who can Embrace it. And if you do, her soul will retain none of its human awareness once it is brought over here. Including any memories of you.”

“There must be a way.”

Before Quincy could respond, Saraqael abruptly stopped pacing. He braced his hands on the table and leaned closer to Quincy, his silver eyes flashing with something indefinable.

“Kate is unlike any being I have ever met, Quincy. She has the most amazing smile. Just the sight of it does things to me that—well, you cannot even imagine. Although her body is frail, her courage is unsurpassed. She is kind and giving. She is intelligent and good-humored. When she sings, I swear the birds stop to listen in envy. And her faith…well, she has at least as much as you, and you have more than anyone I have ever known. I need that faith right now, Quincy.”

He may have been inexperienced with emotions, but Quincy understood the tone of his friend’s voice. He noticed the light sheen of moisture that accompanied his friend’s intense gaze. And he knew he couldn’t ignore either.

Nodding, he said, “Okay. Tell me what her human doctors have shared with you.”