Scepter of Fire – Cover Reveal

My good friend and CP Vicki Weavil‘s next book “Scepter of Fire” (a companion book to “Crown of Ice“) is getting a cover reveal today. I met Vicki shortly before she began writing “Crown of Ice,” and as an early reader of the manuscript I instantly fell in love with her writing. Vicki has grown a lot since “Crown of Ice” was published. She published her first sci-fi novel “Facsimile,” but while that was in production she began writing “Scepter of Fire.” It was really wonderful to see an author so passionate and inspired by their work, and Scepter was written in record time (which considering how fast Vicki writes in general is saying something!)

Scepter of Fire” continues in the tradition of adapting stories of Hans Christian Anderson. Whereas “Crown of Ice” was based on the snow queen myth, “Scepter of Fire” is inspired by Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.”

If you haven’t pre-ordered it, you should do so today! To entice you, here is the stunning cover:

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Title: SCEPTER OF FIRE
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Pub. Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Scepter-Fire-Crown-Vicki-Weavil/dp/1944816593/

B&N: http://www.amazon.com/Scepter-Fire-Crown-Vicki-Weavil/dp/1944816593/

TBD: https://www.bookdepository.com/Scepter-of-Fire/9781944816599

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29993585-scepter-of-fire

Sharp as pine needles, and twice as bitter, seventeen-year-old Varna Lund’s determined to become a healer. At least patients don’t care about her looks, unlike the young men who spurn her for eighteen-year-old Gerda or even her younger sisters. An ugly duckling among swans, Varna hopes to bury her passionate nature in useful work.

Her healing skills are put to the test when Varna encounters Erik Stahl, a young soldier who’s deserted the battlefield to carry his injured friend, Anders Nygaard, to safety. Varna, enlisting the aid of Gerda, cares for Anders in secret.

But a brutal betrayal catapults the four young people into life on the run, where Varna discovers her old mentor is actually a powerful wizard. Seeking the enchanted mirror hidden by a former Snow Queen, the wizard hopes to use Gerda as a pawn in his plan to aid the invading emperor.

Other forces ally against the wizard, including an auburn-haired sorceress, an enchanted
reindeer, a brilliant scholar, and a young woman traveling with a wolf. Along with the soldiers and Gerda, they vow to prevent the mirror from falling into enemy hands. But tempted with promises of beauty and power from her now devilishly handsome mentor, Varna must choose between her own desires and the good of a society that’s never embraced her.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”, SCEPTER OF FIRE is a companion book to CROWN OF ICE.

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal for Facsimile by Vicki Weavil

So this week is just an embarrassment of riches it seems.

In addition to revealing my own cover I get to reveal one for my incredible critique partner Vicki Weavil! I will be upfront, when she told me she was writing sci-fi I was worried. Not because I didn’t think she could handle it, but because I worried I’d be a terrible critique partner for her. Despite being really into Fantasy as a kid, sci-fi never did it for me (I prefer magic over lasers!) However, I can tell you this book really made me love sci-fi! Vicki created a great story with a cast of characters that I instantly wanted to spend time with. Another great thing about this book is the diverse cast. The protagonist is Latino, and two guys she spends the most time with are Indian and Asian. It really made a nice change, particularly in science fiction. So much incredible representation is in this book. So pre-order your copy today! It’s an easy sell with a stunning cover like this!

 

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Title: FACSIMILE

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Publisher: Month9Books

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Format: Paperback and E-book.

Preorder on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Facsimile-Vicki-L-Weavil/dp/194266446X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449082288&sr=1-2&keywords=weavil

Goodreads Listing: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18249272-facsimile?from_search=true&search_version=service

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

 

For a ticket to Earth, seventeen-year-old Anna-Maria “Ann” Solano is willing to jettison her birth planet, best friend, and the boy who loves her. Especially since all she’s required to do is escort Dace Keeling, a young naturalist, through the wilderness of the partially terraformed planet Eco. Ann‘s determination to escape the limitations of her small, frontier colony never falters, until Dace’s expeditions uncover three secrets. One offers riches, one shatters Ann’s perceptions of herself, and one reveals that the humans stranded on Eco are not its only inhabitants.

 

Ann’s willing to sacrifice friendship and love for a new life on Earth. But when an entire species is placed in jeopardy by her actions, she must make a choice – fulfill the dream that’s always sustained her, or save the planet she’s never considered home.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Vicki L. Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a career as a librarian. After obtaining a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she continued her education by receiving a Masters in Library Science and a M.A. in Liberal Studies. She is currently the Library Director for a performing and visual arts university. She is the author of the YA Fantasy, CROWN OF ICE, published by Month9Books in 2014.

An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling. Vicki is a member of SCWBI and is represented by Fran Black of Literary Counsel, NY, NY.

 

Website/blog: http://vickilempweavil.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VickiLWeavil

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/VickiLempWeavil?ref=hl

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7091425.Vicki_L_Weavil

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/vickilweavil/

 

 

Here is a photo of Vicki and I when we met in NYC this summer!

 

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Deaf West Theater’s production of “Spring Awakening” – Review

Deaf West Theater’s production of “Spring Awakening” – Review

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Last night I went and saw Deaf West Theater’s version of “Spring Awakening.” The idea of using a cast of actors, some of which are deaf, to perform a musical is one that takes a second to get used to. However, “Spring Awakening” is perhaps one of the best shows for it. The show focuses a lot on communication, or the lack thereof, between adults and children. As such, a deaf cast would certainly bring a new level/layer to understanding and being frustrated by a communication barrier. Thankfully, the show does not rely on this as a gimmick. Instead, it uses sign language, projected text, and vocalists who perform songs as a mirror/shadow of the deaf actor to enrich the story. As a major fan of the original Broadway production (which I attended four times) I was very familiar with the material, but this production tells the same story in new and interesting ways. Certain moments in the show that I’d glossed over before, felt much more important because of the performances given by the actors. When Wendla begs Melchior to hit her with switch because she has never felt “anything” (a scene I always found problematic in the original Broadway version) the entire cast signs the word “anything.” By punctuating this word, the scene certainly felt more justified than it had before. There were a thousand tiny moments like this in the show, and the actors all give a full out performance that is truly glorious to behold. This makes the quiet and dark moments in the show extra chilling, and the fun bombastic numbers even more engaging.

Ultimately, I wanted to see this show because I’m a huge fan of the musical, and I thought the idea of using a deaf cast was pitch perfect. The show runs till the end of January and I’m trying to figure out if there is a way for me to go again. I know that there are a ton of amazing shows on Broadway right now, but this gem is truly one that should be seen by all people who believe that theatre has power. The story the kids are telling on the stage, is one that deserves our full attention.

“The Role” by Richard Taylor Pearson – Cover Reveal

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for my upcoming novel “The Role.” Ben Baldwin, the designer, worked closely with me, my editor, and the press, and I absolutely adore the result.

The idea that such a talented artist drew something based on what I wrote is truly amazing. Ben’s interpretations of my characters – some of which are exactly what I pictured, others wildly different – are perfect. As we get closer to the release date, I’ll reveal which actors I would choose to play each character. For now, I’m just happy to look at my cover and know I’m one step closer to publication Without further ado, here it is:

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Title: The Role

Genre: LGBT Fiction

Publisher: Lethe

Publication Date: Spring 2016.

Format: Paperback and E-book.

Preorder it: | Lethe | Amazon |

Author: Facebook | Twitter |

 

Synopsis: Mason Burroughs is an actor on the verge of giving up after being turned away at audition after audition. But his life changes when he bumps into Kevin Caldwell, an old crush from acting school. Kevin helps Mason land a role that could make him the next Broadway star. However, as rehearsals begin, Mason learns that there’s a lot more drama than just what’s on stage. With a personal trainer claiming he can mold his body to resemble a Greek statue, an underhanded understudy waiting in the wings to replace him, a megalomaniacal director, and Kevin hellbent on breaking up Mason and his boyfriend, Mason must choose how much he is willing to sacrifice to make his Broadway dream a reality.

 

 

 

 

China Doll – Broadway – Theatre Patrons be warned – avoid this play!


WARNING THEATRE PATRONS – Avoid “China Doll”

Last night I was given the incredible gift of two tickets to a preview performance of “China Doll” on Broadway. The show stars Al Pacino and is a new play written by David Mamet. For this reason, the tickets are exceptionally expensive. I am sad to report this, but the only thing to applaud about “China Doll” is their marketing. On paper, the play is an easy sell. One would think the combination of “A New David Mamet Play” starring “Al Pacino” would be a natural Broadway Smash, one that would justify the roughly $400.00 ticket price. However, the play is an utter bomb!

Honestly, if Pacino just read the phonebook he’d be more interesting. Instead we watch him yell at people on the phone while ignoring the only other actor on stage. This is made even more maddening by him constantly repeating the same 2 basic “plot points” (if one could even call it that) to these imaginary people while simultaneously speaking in a way to let us know what the theoretical person on the other side of the conversation is saying by constantly repeating it back to them. To make matters worse, the main thing he is talking about is complaining that his attempt to prevent paying $5 Million dollars in sales tax on his $50 million private jet her purchased has failed, and that he might, god forbid, have to pay it. So the play pretty much boils down to an exceptionally wealthy man yelling at the equivalent of customer service about a problem less than 1% of the population could find relatable.

In a 2 hour play, I was so bored and disappointed that about thirty minutes in I kept trying to find something entertaining. While Pacino reiterated his boring plan to avoid sales tax to the 4th theoretical person on the phone, I spent much of my time smirking by seeing that a good portion of the audience had fallen asleep.

Honestly, Pacino does his best, and I blame Mamet for the failure of this piece. Mamet’s terrible writing choices of having Pacino talk to people we never hear or see is bad enough, but he also forces Pacino to say about 90% of the text of the play. To do this Pacino relies on numerous prompts embedded in the set. He literally reads a good portion of the play off of laptops, iPads, and newspapers. In addition, it is painfully obvious that when he is “on the phone” he is being fed his lines remotely. This makes the portions when he is forced to actually speak to the other actor on stage even more painful, as he stumbles terribly, repeating himself and constantly searching for the next line. Pacino is able to play this off in his own way, but he mainly behaves like Jerry Stiller who famously delivered his lines in such an erratic way because he was unable to remember them properly.

The other actor on stage is to be pitied, however he takes his duties to basically be a prompt and prop to heart. His performance, what little of it the play provides, is wooden and he appears to be doing a lot of acting exercises to keep himself entertained while he waits Pacino drowns on stage. His attempts to interact with his co-star are ignored, so I can’t blame him.

Mamet should be ashamed of himself for this, and I feel sorry for Pacino, his co-star, and all the people backstage who are forced to watch this tragedy unfold night after night. The actors certainly try, but they know they are essentially in a zombie play that just needs to be put out of its misery.

My only hope is that, as the play is still in previews, that they fix this. However, to do this, the play would basically need to be completely rewritten.

Path To Publication

What I learned from Joan Rivers

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In reflecting on Joan Rivers’ passing, I thought a lot about what it is about her I liked. Certainly, I am thankful for her pioneering efforts for female comedians as well as her life-long advocacy for the LGBT community. However, in Ms. Rivers later years, her openness about her life and struggles really made her much more than a great comedian. In addition to being funny I’ve really come to think of her as a teacher as well. The much lauded episode of Louie, wherein she berates Louis C.K. for not knowing when he is lucky, is one that transcends beyond just the life of a comedian, as the lessons she teaches could be applied to any artistic endeavor. 

Over the past year I’ve been whining and complaining about how long the submission process has been, and I’m pretty sure if I did this in front of Ms. Rivers she would smack me upside the head. She’d point out that I not only finished a book, but that I managed to write and rewrite it to a point that I landed an agent. That, in and of itself, is something few people accomplish. She’d find my excuses for not working on book 2 equally unacceptable. In “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” the documentary about her, she showed just how hard she works at being a comedian and television personality every day. Given how long Ms. Rivers has been in the business, it’s very easy for us to just believe that people would call her to do her act or appears on television. However, this was not the reality. Instead, she was constantly marketing herself and crafting new material. Why? Because she knew how easy it was to fall out of the lime light. Ms. Rivers’ career had numerous ups and downs, but she never let that stop her from working.

I never met Ms. Rivers, but I certainly respected and admired her. Now that she has passed, I can no longer wait for her to someday walk into my life and set me straight. I have to  listen to the words she’s left behind instead. So I’m going to try to not only recognize how lucky I am now, but also stop looking to the world to pave my way toward being a success as an author. I need to get back to working on making my own success. That’s what I learned from Joan Rivers.

196 days A/K/A The day we finally get to share the good news — WE ARE PREGNANT

For the past few months I’ve been doing something very out of character for me. I’ve been keeping a secret. Generally, I like to live life as an open book, and despise secrets (unless it’s an attorney/client thing). So I am happy to finally reveal some very big news to all of you!

 WE ARE PREGNANT

196

 

For people who’ve been to our home, you might have noticed an odd number on the blackboard wall. This number is a countdown to our due date. In about 196 days (March 13, is our due date) we hope to welcome a new life into our family.

 

I hope you are as excited as we are about this, and I’m certain some of you might have some questions. Here is some basic information, that should field some of the basic ones:

 

  1. So you’re not adopting…you’re having a baby. How exactly is that happening?

 

Brian and I decided that if we were going to have a baby, we’d like it to be biologically related to one of us. The biological connection was more important to Brian than it was to me, so he is the sperm donor. My best friend (aside from Brian) is the egg donor. We are very similar so I figured this was as close as we would get to an “egg” that represented me. To our delight, she was completely on board with donating her eggs for us to start a family from the minute I finally found the courage to ask her.

 

  1. Does that mean your friend is carrying the baby too?

 

No. In most instances, it is encouraged to keep the egg donor and the carrier separate (it helps avoid legal issues). We received several eggs from our donor. Those eggs were fertilized and, those that made it to the “blastocyst” stage of embryonic development, were frozen until we were ready to transfer them to the woman who would carry the embryo to term. Fortunately there was not a lot of waiting. Our carrier is a wonderful woman who has two children of her own. She lives in Oklahoma. We found her through an agency that specializes in helping couples have a baby via surrogacy. We’ve met her and her husband several times, and are excited about going to Oklahoma to visit her when she has her 20-week appointment.

 

 

  1. Do you know the sex yet?

 

No, not yet. While there has been a lot of amazing science going on with the birth of our baby, we must wait the same amount of time as everyone else. That said, at 10 weeks we got to see an ultrasound. Our child was very active that day. He/She kicked hard (both the doctor and our carrier felt it) and we got to see her/him very clearly. The carrier and I felt that he\she looked like a boy, but that could easily change as the baby develops more. Brian and I don’t care what sex the child is, only that it is healthy and that it will grow up happy.

 

  1. Do you have names picked out?

Yes, we do. However, we’re not sharing that information just yet. However, I can tell you they are wonderful!  

 

  1. So what’s the baby like now?

 

At 12 weeks the baby is about the size of a lime. Almost all baby literature likes to compare babies at various stages to food, I assume because they are generally spherical in nature and are a good point of reference for everyone. Anyway, the baby essentially looks like a very small version of a newborn. Bones are forming, fingers and toes have separated, and even things like fingernails are beginning to grow. 

 

  1. What’s it like being so far away from your Carrier?

 

As I’ve never had a baby before, I’m not really sure what it’s like to live with a pregnant woman. My sisters had 2 children each, but I was a tween/teen for most of it. I will say we are incredibly thankful for the carrier’s husband and family for helping her through the day-to-day trials of pregnancy. Our carrier has had some rough “morning” (but really all day) sickness, however she has been a real trooper about it. We hope that now that she is entering into her 2nd trimester things will be easier for her. As for communication, we do a combination of texting, e-mailing, and facetimeing.

 

  1. So what’s next?

The next big milestone is going for the 20-week visit in October. We will get to meet the doctor who will most likely be delivering our baby, learn the sex of the child, and also get a bigger glimpse into the daily life of our carrier and her family.

We hope you are all as excited as we are about this big life change! We’ll be more forthcoming with updates from this point on!

Worrying, Waiting, & Writing

This image is by the artist Kibbitzer (Kibbi) on Deviant Art

This image is by the artist Kibbitzer (Kibbi) on Deviant Art

The resubmission process is not as easy as I thought.

Last year, my agent submitted me to three presses. Each one of them saw something of value in it, and offered me some feedback about what aspects of the novel they had issues with. The idea being that if I fixed some of these things, they would review the revised manuscript which might lead to an offer for publication. 

I took a lot of time and care to substantially alter and rework my manuscript, and now that I’ve finished  I’m on “resubmission” with the three editors/presses who gave me feedback. What I have to do now is wait. When I was on submission the first time, I was nervous but also confident. After all, my manuscript had been good enough to get an agent, and I had glowing reviews from my critique partner and beta readers. The editors could have simply rejected my work, but thought it was good enough to give me feedback on. It felt like they wanted to publish my work, but it just wasn’t quite there.

So now that I’ve worked so hard to revise my manuscript, I’m surprised that I find being on resubmission a lot more difficult than the original submission period. I’ve tried hard to figure why this is, and ultimately it comes down to fear. Resubmission is my second & last chance for my novel to be acquired/published by these presses. I fear that they will read it and find my manuscript ultimately unworthy. This concept is scary not just because I truly want my manuscript to be published, but also because it makes me worry about who I am as a writer. I fear that I am somehow in a literary “uncanny valley” as a writer, meaning that my skills/stories are good enough for consideration, but ultimately unworthy of publication. This fear has made it much harder to write something new.

I’ve asked a lot of writers what they do to cope when on submission/resubmission, and the answer I see the most is:

“Work on something else and hope that it distracts you enough from the idea of waiting.”

So I set out to work on something else, but have been plagued by doubt. I know all writers struggle with this. I certainly did when writing my first novel, and even more so when revising/rewriting it. My process in writing a first draft generally requires me to accept that a first draft is about finding the bones of the story. This translates to accepting that the beginning will likely be completely rewritten (saving the plot points and nothing else) and the rest of it will be heavily rewritten. A lot of my first draft writing has me writing scenes that I need to write to get to know my characters better, but are ultimately cut because they are not necessary. A character could talk endlessly about being an outcast in high school, but you could simply reduce this to a single phrase in a conversation. Something like “Sorry, I’m just used to eating alone.” That tells you everything you need to know, and avoid long ambling exposition.

I used to hate this about my process, but I have learned over the past few years that it’s pointless to fight it. I’ve tried to be better about writing work that requires less editing, but ultimately it makes it much harder for me to complete a story. If I think of my novel as building a bridge, and I choose to build it slowly and steadily out of huge stones that once placed cannot be removed, then I run into big problems when I find myself  at a dead end. Whereas if my first draft is just the basic framework which can be altered easily, then I can make sure that those huge stones are in the right place when I edit/rewrite/ and revise.

This is definitely not the fastest way to write a good novel, but it’s what works for me. The issue I have now is, I worry whether the bridges I build are good enough for other people to walk/drive on. Whether they will be able to be used by the masses, or if I’m simply building them for myself. What if my bridges aren’t good enough? Should apply my craft to something else? A true artist is said to be compelled to make/compose whatever art calls to them even if no one else saw it. I perform and sing without an audience often, and I write stuff that no one sees (nor should). For me there is no difference, because they all focus on one thing: Telling a story. I can’t imagine a life where I didn’t tell stories. But stories require an audience, just like theatre.  While novels can certainly exist without anyone but the author reading it, that’s not why I write. My goal in writing is to not only craft and create an excellent story, but also to share it with the world. For that reason, publication means a lot to me, and that is the reason that idea of resubmission being my second & last chance is much more nerve wracking.

My hope is that by blogging about this, I’ll remember that publication is the final step for my first novel. It’s an important one, but I shouldn’t let that stop me from taking the first step with my second. I’ve got other stories that need to be told, and that should be my focus for now.

The Revision Project – Day 8

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So this editing thing has definitely been a journey! The good news: I roughly on track. The bad news: It’s not from editing everyday. Rather I seem to find time every 2-3 days to do a decent chunk. Now that I’m through combing my opening for tiny flaws the more substantial edits have come forth. Many of my edits found numerous ways to ask me to do one thing: “Be less subtle.” As a person, I’m not subtle at all. As an author, I was trying to be a bit more nuanced. The request to really just be bold, is a dangerous one for me. Fortunately, I’ve been good at remembering I’m not a lone in this. I’ve sent small snippets of things to various readers, who are familiar with the original story, to see if these slight changes made a big difference.  Today I started weaving in a new character. While this is definitely something I’m nervous about, I’ve also really enjoyed it. I’m finding that if I’m struggling to edit a moment, the answer is not to spend an hour on it. The answer is to rewrite it. I usually think of rewrites as this thing you do when you just accept that what you’ve got on the page is broken. So I try really hard to see if I can simply fix stuff before rewriting it. I’m learning now to try a rewrite earlier. To trust that new words, covering the same beats and moments, can still be infused with the same magic that made the original passable. Only there is a high likelihood it will be even better.

Total pages edited: 65-70 (depending on which version of the MS)

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