Fire of the Sea is on SALE!

If you haven't picked up a copy of Fire of the Sea, this is a great time to do it! Right now, the eBook is on SALE for $2.99 for a limited time (marked down from $4.99). If you like modern-day mermaids, swoon-worthy viking descendants, shapeshifters, legends, mythology, and love stories, all set to the backdrop of enchanting Iceland, this book is the one for you! Click HERE to purchase Fire of the Sea on Amazon.

Fire of the Sea

Sharp, sleek, and golden. Like the dagger she has worn since childhood, eighteen-year-old Aeva is all three of these things. But there is something else that this mermaid and her prized weapon share — they are both hunted.

Hidden within the caves off Iceland’s dark shore, Aeva waits to take her place as the next ruler of the Mermaids. But when Aeva uses her potent and alluring song to save a drowning human, she disrupts a delicate balance. Realizing she has unexpectedly bound herself to Gunnar, Aeva is torn between duty and love. 

Aeva severs one life to begin another, and soon finds herself not only rejected by the sea, but also stalked by an old enemy. As the worlds of myth and man intertwine, Aeva will challenge fate to protect her own sacred relic and the man she loves. 

But legend and lies cast an intricate net. With time and safety quickly unraveling for Aeva and Gunnar, there is only one clear course: Find and defeat Delphine before she can shift again. 

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Reading the Classics: A guest post with Grace Snarr

When I am not writing, I am often designing (in between mothering). I had the pleasure of designing a lovely blog called The Whitewash Chronicles by Grace Snarr. I loved her series on reading the classics, and asked if I could re-post some of her thoughts. She agreed! Enjoy:

The Classics

These are the days where a book is permanently glued to my hands, and not to mention my eyes. In this second edition to the Classics series, I'm going to show you the steps of how to truly read a classic! Let's get thinking!

A very wise man once said "you haven't had a true education until you've read a thousand books". WOWZA! What a statement, huh?! Imagine how amazing the world would be if we read one thousand classics! If you truly want that wonderful education for you, and your family, you can start by reading! Here's some pointers to start....

1) Have a purpose and a question.
Why did you pick to read this book? When we set a goal, our goal is to accomplish it, right? It's the same with books! We need to always have a purpose and a mindset of learning to fully immerse ourselves in a book.

2) Take Notes!
Like I always say.. "a book should be your workbook". NEVER read a book without taking notes or simply jotting down your thoughts. Writing is the faucet that turns thoughts ON!

3) Make connections to other Classics
How does Tom Sawyer connect to The Hunger Games? Or As A Man Thinketh to the Bible? When we make connections, we form a sort of nice relationship that can open our eyes to different ideas. Truth is found everywhere, so definitely look and compare it in different books.

4) Ask Questions
Why did the author say it this way? How can this apply to my life? When does the character change? 
Question will always bring about answers. If you feel a craving to learn, ask! It is amazing the perspective we bring when we just ask.

5) Discuss what you’ve read
Does your spouse, mom, or sibling like to read? What about your best friend? Find someone who shares this interest, or is even new to reading like crazy, and discuss! Share what YOU thought was important, and listen to their thoughts, as well. You never know, someone might have taken one sentence completely different than you had. It's all about perspective! 

I hope you have enjoyed this little segment of this series! If you crave a renewed imagination... Read! If you seek deep truths... Read! Leave comments below on what YOUR favorite book is, and many others you wish to read! 

Have a fabulous fall... And as always,

Thanks so much for joining us, Gracie! We look forward to more in your series.


The origins of fairytales

I have a lot to get done today. A LOT. But it was all thwarted in the kindergarten pick up line when our local Radio West broadcast came on. It was an interview with Maria Tatar, the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in German Studies, Folklore, and Children’s Literature. Today she was talking about folklore and fairy tales. But it wasn't the regular insight into the Brothers Grimm. This interview was completely RIVETING. She went on and on about the history of oral storytelling, the evolution of the original folkloric versions of these "fairytales," and how they have come to be the "sanitized" versions we tell our children and watch in theaters. (Did you know that the original Rapunzel was impregnated by the prince who repeatedly visited her tower? Scandalous!)

I was captivated by the topic of fairy tales, folklore, and legends. I, too, am fascinated by the origin and evolution of legends, passed down orally and then manifested through the written word. For those of you who have read Fire of the Sea, you know that it is an Icelandic retelling of classic mermaid tales, with shades of The Little Mermaid, Icelandic Sagas, Scandinavian folklore, as well as the Greek myths of Proteus. I am so interested in oral story-telling, that I just had to include it in my novel in the form of Afi (Gunnar's grandfather) recounting Viking legends around a modern-day fire. 

As research for my next novel, Into the Fade (parallel dystopian with themes from Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, and the Willies/Villas/Will o'theWisps of the woods), I recently finished reading The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, in which the author explores the roots of fairytales, and highlights their not-so-child-friendly beginnings. (Let's just say I'll never look at fringed shawls the same way again...) It was completely engrossing. So you can imagine my delight when this morning's interview picked right up on these ideas that have been rumbling around in my head as they form into something new to add to the world "stew" of existing folklore. It was such an enjoyable and insightful look into the world of legends and fairytales on an otherwise uneventful fall morning. Find the full interview on Radio West's website: http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/fairy-tale-world-brothers-grimm

As a quirky side note, as I was listening to the interview, nodding along emphatically, and I didn’t want to get out of the car even after I was parked in my garage. I sat in there for thirty minutes as my 5-year-old daughter began to get antsy. She finally leapt out of the car, grabbed a broom and started sweeping the garage floor. “Look, Mama! I’m Cinderella!”

It was very fitting.


Author Spotlight and Interview with Amarilys Gacio Rassler

I am delighted to have the lovely Amarilys Gacio Rassler, author of  Cuban-American, Dancing On The Hyphen, with me today! She came to the United States from Havana, Cuba, as a Peter Pan child in 1960. She originally arrived in Miami, Florida and now calls Tampa home. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida and is a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and more. She writes poetry and prose. Cuban-American, Dancing On The Hyphen celebrates her heritage and the blessings of living in the U.S.

Come...as Amarilys dances with her memories and be transported to another place and another time. Follow her ever-present Cuban-American spirit. Take a peek into the soul of a Cuban immigrant remembering her family's crossing of an ocean for freedom's sake. Experience the drama and participate in the humor of Cuban-American: Dancing on the Hyphen!

Where do you find your writing inspiration?
I find my writing inspiration in modern and classic poetry and in books written to inspire writers. For example, The Right To Write, by Julia Cameron and The Courage To Write, by Ralph Keyes. Music, art and cinematography can also easily feed my muse.

What is your favorite fictional character or creature?   
Lucy Pevensie, from The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. I feel a  camaraderie with her because she saw another world around her and characters in that world that no one else from her own family saw till much later. When I was a child, living in Cuba, I first saw spirits at the age of four. I love the way Lucy sticks with her beliefs and claims as true that which she saw even though no one else at first believed her.  

What is the one writing tool you couldn’t live without?
Definitely the internet for research and for excellent access to dictionaries and thesauruses.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes! I pray for inspiration, turn on a gurgling fountain, put on soft music of the culture of the character I’m creating, pick up pictures from the internet of the neighborhood most like the one in which my character lives and then I see myself there with him or her.  

What path did you take for publication?
Cuban-American, Dancing OnThe Hyphen, my first book, I self-published. I am so glad I did! It is a cultural book, with the flavor of Cuban culture. It’s prose and poetry that tells my story as one of the 14,000 children who escaped Cuba alone in the exodus of 1960-1962.  I dedicated it especially to my mother who was able to enjoy the book for more than a year before she passed away. I have also written stories and poetry that were published in the traditional way in print magazines and on an online magazine.

If you could be any character in one of your stories, who would it be and why?
I’m very close to self-publishing a second book, The Chairs, the story of the visit of two angels to the seaside town of Dunedin, Florida, summoned by the prayers of an elderly couple. I would like to be one of those angels, the one I called, the centurion. Why? I love the insight and power he has over the darkness in the spirit realm.

Are you writing anything now? Tell me about your next project!
Right now I’m working on my spiritual memoir, Beyond The Veil, the story of my traumatic trip in 1979, into the spirit realm.  I’m also writing a speculative fiction novella, a suspense-romance, Commuters. It’s the story of a Chicago detective who rescues a little girl from a serial killer, falls in love with her young widowed mother and then realizes that the demons from the serial killer have transferred to the girl. Can he once again set her free?

What are you currently reading?
Writing romance, reading romance! I’m presently enjoying Richard Paul Evans’, The Last Promise. Writing speculative fiction, reading speculative fiction! I just finished The Chair, by James L. Rubart. Super drama about a chair supposedly made by Christ and protected by a select group of women throughout the ages.

When you’re not writing, what can we find you doing for fun?
When I’m not writing I’m making memories with my family. You can also find me reading while drinking strong coffee at a café or cooking to make my hubby happy!

What is the best advice you have received (writing or otherwise)?
The best advice I have received on writing has come from what Julia Cameron says…

“Write because something ‘touches’ you, write because you want to ‘touch’ someone else, but most of all write to ‘get in touch’ with the divine or because the divine somehow has ‘gotten in touch’ with you.”  

You can find stories by Amarilys G. Rassler at Fiction 365. www.fiction365.com
More about Amarilys at her website: www.guavanewton.com  

Thanks so much for joining me!


The Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Query Letter

Oh, the dreaded query letter. Maybe not as dreaded as the synopsis, but still a daunting task. I've been helping authors hone their query letters lately, and I find that some of the same things crop up. So I thought I'd share a few Dos and Don'ts to hopefully help you out when the time comes to tackle yours.


• Address the agent by name:
Find out who the agent is, and make it personal. It is also a good idea to briefly explain why you have chosen that agent if they are a particularly good fit (but save this info for the end of your query).

• Start off with a great hook:
A hook is a one-sentence tagline for your book. It's meant to grab the reader's attention and ask for more. The best way to write a hook, is to look at loglines or taglines of other books. Here is mine for Fire of the Sea:
Where legends and lies cast an intricate net, a daughter of the sea will challenge fate to protect her own sacred relic and the man she loves from the enemy that binds them.

• Study other query letters:
Do a search for query letters that sold. You can even look for query letters from your favorite authors, and see what ultimately sold. I have included my query letter for Fire of the Sea, as well as my query-in-progress for my upcoming novel (still in the works), called Into the Fade.

• Sell your story:
This is your chance to shine. Write the bulk of your query in the style of the blurb on the back of a book jacket. My query translated almost 100% to the back of my book, in fact!

• Craft an interesting bio:
Make sure you include a few interesting tidbits about yourself above and beyond your desk job or current writing skills. Sell yourself as an author. An agent wants to know that you have some unique qualities, as well as a life outside of writing. Don't make it seem that you are putting all your eggs into one basket (even if you are).

• Mention your platform:
Have you been working on building your blog and Facebook audience? List it! Have you been speaking at conferences, or become the vice president of your local author group? Mention that, as well. If not, now is the time to get started!

• List your experience when applicable:
Don't worry if you have little to no previous writing experience. Just make sure to include any experience that you DO have. If you have previous published books, work included in anthologies, or a pertinent recurring column for a website/magazine/newspaper.  If you can tie in your current job or skill set to writing credibility, do it! If not, don't worry too much about it. Many agents sign—and even seek out—new, debut, and unknown authors .


• List your age:
Just don't. Are you a mother of three? Great. Mention that. But don't tell anyone you just hit the big 3-0. They don't care.

• Mention that this is your first rodeo:
An agent doesn't have time to read about how you slaved away on your first novel for years. If you don't list any other writing experience, an agent will deduce that this is your debut novel, which is welcomed by most agents. But there's no need to give them any more reason to pass. ;) Let the work sell itself!

• Inflate your ability or your manuscript:
Never go on and on about how this is going to be a bestseller! Bragging is bad form. You may think this goes without saying, but it happens! Again, let your writing do the talking. It is often a good idea to liken your story to other books out there—but MAKE SURE you don't upgrade your novel to star status (unless you are seeking an agent for a previously self-published work that garnered lots of attention and has stellar sales). Seek out work in your genre that shares your target audience (hopefully you have even read some of these titles when doing your research/homework). For example, maybe you have a great wizard book for middle graders. You don't want to compare it to Harry Potter. Try mentioning the Adventurers Wanted series by M. L. Forman. Here is an example of how this could be written into your query:

"The recent success of series such as M. L. Forman’s Adventurers Wanted and Aiden Snow's Shadow Lantern shows there is still a strong market for wizardry tales for middle graders."

• Give a lengthy synopsis:
The bulk of your query letter should include a few well-structured paragraphs, and should never include the full plot line, too many characters, or the ending (that will come later in the process). Leave them wanting more!

• Don't send your query off without spell checking and having someone else check for errors:
(See below)

• Never query your top agent choices first:
When I sent out my first ten queries, I thought it was perfect. But I had read that query so many times that I was missing simple mistakes. I was REALLY excited to start the query process, and sent it out to my top ten choices because I just knew it would be loved by all right out of the gate (rolling eyes in retrospect). When I had ten instant rejections, I looked at my query again to find not just one error but a FEW (gasp). I was mortified, and I had just shot myself in the foot. Lesson learned. Now my queries get passed on to an editor (husband, friend, hired help) before going out to agents. By starting with some "test" agents, you can try out your query and see what kind of feedback you are getting. I went through three versions of my query early on before agents started to bite. So save your favorite agents for the final and best version of your query.

Thanks for joining me today! To read the query letter that landed me a book deal, as well as for my current work-in-progress, see below. Best of luck and happy writing!

Fire of the Sea 
Note that my hook isn't in this version. I sent out two final versions, 
and both got bites. My publisher just happened to receive this query.

Sharp, sleek, and golden. Like the dagger she has worn since childhood, eighteen-year-old Aeva is all three of these things. But there is something else that this mermaid and her prized weapon share. They are both hunted.

Hidden within the caves off Iceland’s jagged coast, Aeva waits to take her place as the next ruler of the Meriads. But new rumors of an old enemy begin to taint the merfolk’s guarded waters. Delphine, the covetous shapeshifter from Aeva’s past, has emerged from hiding. She comes for the blade said to grant immortality, and is drawing Aeva closer to a forbidden shore.

When Aeva uses her potent and alluring song to save a drowning human, the balance begins to shift dangerously. Realizing she has unexpectedly bound herself to Gunnar, Aeva is torn between a promise to protect the Meriads, and leaving the sea for love on land. Surrendering to fate, she painfully severs one life to begin another.

On the unfamiliar banks of Iceland, Aeva soon finds herself not only rejected by the sea, but also stalked by dark forces. As the worlds of myth and man intertwine, Aeva looks to Gunnar’s family to help protect both her sacred relic, and the man she loves. But legends and lies cast an intricate net. With time and safety quickly unraveling for Aeva and Gunnar, there is only one clear course: Find and defeat Delphine before she can shift again.

FIRE OF THE SEA is Young Adult fantasy fiction, complete at 121,000 words. I would be pleased to send you the full manuscript at your request. 

I am a graduate of the University of North Texas, where I studied creative writing and graphic design, before going on to pursue my Master's Degree in graphic arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York. As a stay-at-home mom, I spend my days infusing creativity into the details. I have two widely read blogs on living a creative life, motherhood, and the art of blogging. I currently live in the mountains of Utah with my filmmaker husband who fancies himself a Viking, and our two spirited young children.

Your time and consideration are much appreciated!

Into the Fade 
This story and query are both a work-in-progress, 
and the cover is only a mock-up that I threw together.

For seventeen-year-old Bryony illusion is survival. In a city where a girl’s face is her most dangerous asset, daughters are taught to shield themselves from the wilderness beyond—a wild, unknown landscape, home to beasts that hunt young women for their beauty. Daughter to the Gatekeeper on the outskirts of town, Bryony watches men go into the forest to kill these feral thieves, and sees even fewer return.

On the night of the Hunter’s Moon Fete, Bryony and her friend, Laurel, attend the one celebration a year when girls don’t have to fear their own beauty. Within the safety of the palace, girls of all ages come, hoping to be chosen to live under the protective wings of royal life. Bryony is not surprised when Laurel is selected to be among a group of the most elegant elite. And while she is pleased for her friend’s good fortune, Bryony is secretly relieved to return to the simple life she leads outside the city wall at the edge of her world.

But when Laurel goes missing from Drosera, Bryony is determined to find her friend before the beasts can. Slipping past the sentries that guard the wall, she enters the woods against the cries of her better judgment. What Bryony finds in the forest will shatter all of her notions of beauty and power, shedding light on a danger no one from within the wall could have ever imagined.