Friday, December 14, 2012

Oculus book tour and a $50 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway I shall return to regular postings on this blog on Monday, January 2nd, 2013 with the Insecure Writer's Support Group. In the meantime have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
This Contest ends Sunday, January 6th at midnight.
From now until Monday, January 7th, I would like to dangle this $50 gift card in front of you as a kind of prize for doing something very simple for me (and I promise it will only take about a minute of your time a day).

Each day of my book tour up until January 7th, I will update/edit this posting with a "TWEET OF THE DAY." This "Tweet" will appear below the embedded twitter graphic. All you have to do is copy and paste that tweet into twitter and hit send. Then comment here and say "tweet sent." Only one comment per day please on this post!  Also if you are super lazy, you can just retweet me when I tweet the book tour stop of the day. But be sure to comment here so it counts as an entry by saying "I retweeted you."

IF YOU DON'T HAVE TWITTER but would like participating in the drawing, then visit the blog on which I'm appearing and comment once and then comment here that you visited. The twitter option is much simpler though because you don't even have to go read what I wrote. Only one comment per day please on this post!

On January 7th, I will do a of all the comments here. Obviously the more comments you have, the better chance you have that you will be the one chosen by to win the $50 Amazon gift card.

Anyone in the world may enter as often as they want including book tour hosts.

And that's it.

Easy Peasy.
TWEET FOR JANUARY 3rd:  PLS RT- In #Oculus there's a strong allegorical element. Who knew? #amreading

BONUS TWEET: Pls RT - A #giveaway of $50 for just sending ONE tweet and commenting. Way easier than the #fiscalcliff. Details here:

BLOG I'M AT:  I'm at Indie Book Blog.

Thank you for all the support.

If you want to see who I've scheduled, please check the Oculus Book Tour tab above. I will update this post to let people know where I'm at that day, and a link to send you there if you wish to read it.

At each step of my book tour, I'll be giving away stuff. There's a free bookmark, signed paperback books, and electronic books to be had. So feel free to enter those if you want. Have a great holiday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Christmas week with Michael Whelan day four

2010: A Space Odyssey courtesy of Michael Whelan. Click to EMBIGGEN
By today's standards, this cover for Arthur C. Clarke's iconic 2010: A Space Odyssey is nothing special because we have PhotoShop. But in 1982 when Michael painted it, it was the thing that really made me notice the power of an acrylics air brush. I still think it's beautiful.

Michael did 10 separate proofs for the publisher before selecting this one. The spaceship Discovery is positioned to kind of seem like a baby's rattle. It's more of the symbolism that Whelan always includes in his paintings. And of course, showing the baby against the backdrop of our solar system's largest planet, Jupiter, is a hint that Jupiter will become the origin of life for its own solar system when the monolith causes the gas giant to experience nuclear fusion and ignite.

FACT: Michael doesn't like using an airbrush. But he does do a lot of painting on masonite. I asked Stephen Hayes about masonite and he gave me the rundown on it which was QUITE extensive.

Well folks, that's my last post in this mini-series. I hope I got you to be a fan of Michael Whelan and will check out his website to see his other works. Not so much because you could ever get him to do your books or anything like that. But because he's gotten old, and I want you to feel sad one day when he dies. I want you to know INSTANTLY that someone great has left the human race.

Oh and his signature is on this painting. It's embedded in the details of the Discovery spaceship. I searched forever to find it.

Tomorrow is my last post for the year. My book tour for Oculus starts on Monday, so I'll be posting on other blogs. I have a giveaway announcement tomorrow for a $50 Amazon gift card to encourage you to support me on my book tour (and it's super easy). Just one tweet a day and a comment on tomorrow's post to let me know you tweeted. Sounds great, right? You don't even need to visit my book tour posts (yeah you heard that right)! That's like one minute of your time per day.

More details to come tomorrow. Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Christmas week with Michael Whelan Day Three

"Z-World" courtesy of Michael Whelan. CLICK TO EMBIGGEN
In yesterday's post, I spoke of how Roger Zelazny died never realizing his dream of having a Whelan cover. Well he got his wish posthumously. This is the art piece that Michael got commissioned and finished for Zelazny and it has elements of all his stories (you can see Amber in the distance!). To save money, the publishing companies will have Michael do one painting and divide it up into several books. That's what they did with H.P. Lovecraft, paying Michael for only two huge paintings which I'm sure cost them probably several hundred thousand dollars a few decades ago.  I remember hearing at the time that DAW books blew all of their cover budget and could barely afford the two paintings for all six books. Even back then, Michael was a big deal, and he promised DAW that he'd make some incredible pieces of art that they could then divide up to accomplish their goal.

I have no idea what Michael charges now, but it's probably ten years of my current salary. If St. Martins can afford to pay Amanda Hocking $2 million to write some mermaid books, then to get someone like Whelan to do a cover is probably going to cost equally as much if not more. My guess is probably a couple million, minimum, per painting. Especially since he can just shrug and say, "I don't need you...I have as much money as I'll ever need to take care of my family and send my kids to school, etc." That's what I meant yesterday by the phrase "F U Money." It's a term I coined with my friend James to describe a turning point in a person's career where you choose your own destiny and could care less about outside forces (like the need to eat and have a place to sleep).

Consequently, I heard that these covers on the six books when arranged in order on the shelf, create the entire image that you see using the spines. That would be a cool effect. Be sure to embiggen and check out the details on all the pillars. That's why I chose this particular piece as a favorite. It showcases Michael's obsession with detail. Nothing is too small to be overlooked.

FACT: The only contemporary that Michael has been compared to is the artist H.R. Giger and vice-versa. They are completely different artists, but equally as great. I prefer Whelan to Giger myself. Giger scares me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Christmas Week with Michael Whelan Day Two

"The Astrophysicist" courtesy of Michael Whelan
One of the things I love about Michael Whelan is that he uses his family in many of his portraits. This is his son staring at the night sky in a parking lot (he now majors in physics at a distinguished university). Everything in Michael's paintings have symbolism. The two balls are exactly ten paces apart which refers to something Neil deGrasse Tyson said about how far apart the Earth is to the moon. Michael's lifelong dream was to see a human land on Mars.

FACTOID: Michael's signature is in every single painting. He disguises it like a "Where's Waldo" painting. Sometimes it's a coin on the ground, sometimes a shadow, but it's always there and never in the same place. It can even be the design on a scabbard (for a fantasy painting) or the detail on a shoe.

Yesterday in the comments, Cindy Borgne said, "I wonder how much he charges for a book cover. I need one." I have to chuckle. Roger Zelazny on his deathbed said his one wish was to have a Whelan cover. That's how prized this guy is by people who understand the industry of publishing. Consequently, Blizzard paid a fortune to have Whelan do a picture of Deathwing the Dragon for the launch of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm that reached some 14 million regular subscribers. Also Whelan is officially retired and has been for years. He only takes on personal projects that appeal to him (he has "F you money" at this point), and he only does covers for books that he has personally read. So factor that artist who reads your entire book cover to cover before they begin to paint so that the feeling and symbolism are perfect.

It makes me wonder if Brandon Sanderson (who has had two Whelan covers at this point) even knows (or is humbled) by the fact that someone so great has painted his last two Robert Jordan books.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Christmas week with Michael Whelan day one

"The Island" courtesy of Michael Whelan. This is all acrylics, no photoshop.
I've followed Michael Whelan for 30 years, and the man never ceases to amaze me. This week I'm going to post four of my favorite paintings he has done. This is one I think I might purchase (a print of) once I buy a house. I'd get it framed and display it proudly.

FACT: The amount of Hugos Michael Whelan has won could fill two shopping carts.

The man is bar none, in my opinion, the greatest living artist of our time. His vision captures my imagination.

If you are not too busy, please stop by and say hello to Shelly who is a book blogger located HERE. She gave me a great review of my book, and I appreciate that. To hold a banana in front of you, if Shelly took the time to read my book, she sure as hell will probably read yours, dear author (and she posts the reviews everywhere). I know I're saying, "But Mike, reviewers are already beating down my doors to read my books so why the hell would I want to befriend a book blogger?" I just think it may be worth your time, so please comment there :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Interview with Laura Diamond author of YA paranormal sensation Shifting Pride

Housekeeping first: my drawing for the free ebook of your choice had 14 entries out of 70 views: In order, they were E.J., Denise, Alex, Em, Tonja, Andrew, Joy, David, Elise, Cherie, L.G., Morgan, Susan, and Danette. And that's for any ebook which should have a broad appeal to most people. What do I get from this? Well, I think about 20% of the people who read my blog have electronic readers (or prefer reading ebooks). That's interesting, and I caveat that the percentage could probably move up by 5% if you factored in repeat visits (or those who are just swamped by books). Does 25% of blog readers owning e-readers or reading e-books jive with the national average? I have no idea, but it's food for thought.

Anyway, the winner of the great ebook giveaway is number 7. That person is Joy Campbell.

So Joy, when you read this, just leave a comment below as to what free ebook in the whole wide world (under 10 bucks) you want emailed to you from Amazon (that's Mobi format for the kindle, and I'll send it to your email as a gift). I'm sure I'll get around to pestering you on your blog about it. Alternately, you can choose just a $10 Amazon gift card if you want to say, buy a book that costs more than ten bucks.



Now, to my interview with Laura Diamond author of YA paranormal sensation Shifting Pride (I'm putting this up a day early as I don't blog on the weekend). My commentary/responses/questions are written in bold black print.
Blurb for Shifting Pride: Sixteen-year-old Nickie Leone has proof that
her missing (presumed dead) father is still alive. Receiving his watch in
the mail is the first in a line of clues bringing her closer to discovering his
whereabouts. But clues aren’t the only new thing in Nickie’s life. There’s the
Memorial Banquet her mother insists she help prepare for, there’s the new
kid/hottie, Xavian, and…well, the growth of whiskers and a tail!

Filled with secrets and a new love of tuna fish, Nickie must partner
up with Xavian (don’t you know he’s a shape-shifter also?) to rescue
her dad before she loses him forever. Oh, and she needs to figure
out how to be a cat, too. This guy on the cover is really good looking LOL-
stares at it some more. *Facepalms

Hi Michael! Thanks so much for hosting me today. I had a lot of fun answering your questions, and hey, you gave me some ideas for the sequel! ;) You're welcome, Laura. I'm good for a few ideas here and there.

Q: How did you hear about Etopia Press? One of the editors, Rachel Firasek, held a pitch contest on her blog. I’d heard of Etopia through Twitter, but didn’t know they accepted YA submissions until the pitch contest. I submitted my pitch, and Rachel asked for the first chapter that day. Then she asked for the full manuscript!

Q: Just to verify, are you a cat person or a dog person 'cause you seem like a cat person O.o? LOL! I’m probably more of a cat person. I have four: a ragdoll and 3 rescues, but I also adopted a Corgi last spring. She’s adorable and brought me much joy.

Q: If you were the MPAA, what rating would you give your book and why (I asked this question because I have Mormon friends who are 40 and have never seen an R-rated movie)? You know, at first I was going to say PG…then I remembered the scenes where the characters shape-shifted  When they have the time, they prefer to undress first so that a majority of their income doesn’t go to wardrobe replacement. Therefore, because of their, ahem, nakedness, I’d rate it at PG-13.

Q: Does the whole "cats have nine lives" thing come into play in your book? I'm curious because I don't think I could write a werecat book without doing the nine lives thing. Seems almost necessary. Hmm, that’s a good idea! It may come up in the sequel! ;) No, my shape-shifters don’t have nine lives, but they have extraordinarily long ones—like centuries. They tend to keep their teenage countenance until they find a mate, then they mature. Even then, the aging process is slow. They’re more likely to be killed in a battle than to die from old age, though. They like to fight too much.

Q: How would the cats in your book view the whole domestication of cats, cat shows, and cat groomers of the world? LOL! I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask. Actually, they’d probably say that they like pets. Nickie tried to help a stray kitty, but got into trouble. Also, some of the shifters in the book may be insulted if someone equated them to domesticated animals.

Q: Are you drawing any connection back to a cat goddess in your book? No cat goddess in the first book, Shifting Pride, or in the prequel, New Pride. However, I’m still developing a sequel and there may be something to that goddess thing. Stay tuned!

Q: What's your favorite book not written by you featuring cats? I like Rachel Vincent’s Shifting series. Her MC is in college in the first book, so it’s more new adult or adult urban fantasy, but the cat hierarchy is there…and so is the action! In Nine Lives of Chloe King, Chloe dies and then develops her feline qualities…kind of harkens back to your earlier question about nine lives. Such a great concept!

Thanks for answering all of my quirky questions, Laura!

For those of you who do not know Laura, here's a little about her:

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, horror, and middle grade. Her short story, "City of Lights and Stone", is in the Day of Demons anthology by Anachron Press (April 2012). Another short story, "Begging Death", is in the Carnage: After the End anthology volume one by Sirens Call Publications. Her Young Adult Paranormal Romance novelette New Pride and novel Shifting Pride debuted late 2012 from Etopia Press. She has just signed with Pugalicious Press to publish another Young Adult novel, Zodiac Collector. When she's not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion. She is also full-time staff member for her four cats and a Pembroke corgi named Katie. live in a 225 year old mansion! I want to know about that!

Where to find Laura Diamond on the web:

Her Blog is HERE
Her twitter is HERE
Facebook is HERE
Facebook Author Page is HERE
Website is HERE

Amazon author page is HERE
Author’s Den page is HERE
Goodreads author page is HERE

DRAWING: I will be gifting one lucky person who comments on this post with Laura's ebook (it's in Adobe pdf format) New Pride, which is the jumping off point for this series.

As of this blog writing, Laura's book has six five-star ratings on Goodreads with an average of 4.86 % (that's frickin high). Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

IWSG December 2012 Edition

Boy, the fact that this blog fest by Alex rolls around so often makes me realize just how fast I'm aging. Before I know it, I'll be receiving the AARP magazine in the mail.

One of the weird insecurities that I experience when writing or getting involved in creative projects is that I kind of lose myself within them and become (for a short time) unhealthily obsessed. I don't know why this happens. And I think it's a state of mind that I enjoy while I'm in it, but when I look up from the computer or from whatever project I'm working on and realize, hey it's dark outside, that maybe this is not a good thing.

So I guess I'm insecure about losing myself or losing touch with the real world as I immerse myself in these fantasies that I create. The psychology of why I do this is probably even more disturbing, and I really don't want to be psychoanalyzed (yeah I'm gonna hide from the truth). But I'll at least have the guts to admit that maybe I am a little mentally ill. If I am, then maybe there are a lot of authors out there who are also mentally ill, and I'm in good company. If you're one of those writers...have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought: am I insane?

Just to be clear. I don't want to be mentally ill. But it's a distinct possibility that I am. I think that some of the activities in which I engage are not what normal people do. But my life has never been normal. So I guess with all things being equal, I'll plug away at what I'm doing because (at least) I'm pretty decent at it.

And just maybe (and this is where I branch off into my own theories) this is why validation from other people is so important to writers. It's because we all think (deep inside) that we may be insane. And by having someone validate us, those fears are then put to rest. We become authors.

We're not crazy, we're just working.

That makes sense, right?

Have a great Wednesday.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What kink will the Hivemind accept or ridicule?

Dear reader,

I know you (like me) MUST be confused at what is proper to mock with abandon when it comes to kinks, fetishes, and sex. So I propose we develop a chart or list together that tells us what "The Hivemind" will accept.  That way we are on the right side of the line.  No one wants to be outside "The Hivemind", especially myself.

Imagine the embarrassment of making fun of light bondage when Fifty Shades of Grey is selling so well.  Who wants to be that person? You know...the only one to laugh at a joke while everyone else thinks you're an idiot.

I suggest we begin with the chart above. In the comments, please let us know which of these we can mock openly, ridicule, and say awful things about AND which ones are definitely reserved for respectful treatment.  

Have a great Monday.

P.S. I intend to submit our research to the Harry Potter fan fiction sites of the world. If you read Harry Potter fan fiction YOU KNOW EXACTLY what I'm talking about.