Slam, Bam…Your Attitude’s Adjusted!

 

Bell_Thief_cover-12-16By Hilari Bell

I’ve been busy enough lately that I find myself wasting more time and energy than I should in stewing about all the things I’m not getting done.  Yes, I know that’s completely unproductive, but I do it anyway.

But yesterday I remembered a technique my brother taught me—it’s actually no more productive than stewing, but at least you end up feeling better.

You start your day with a list of things you want to accomplish.  And yes, even if it’s something you’ll probably do anyway, it still counts.  The things on your list can be daily habits you want to maintain, like exercise, or eating right, or even taking some time to read for pleasure.  They can be household chores, like getting the fridge cleaned out or fixing that broken latch.  They can certainly be work or work related tasks, like revising chapter 14 or writing your Scene13 blog.  (Slam!  I’ll explain that in a minute.)  It can be anything at all that you want to get done, today.

Then, as the day goes on, you reward yourself with Slam points for everything on the list that you do.  If you get one thing done, then your score for the day is a Slam.  And let’s face it, there are some days when a Slam is a pretty good score.  It may be kind of par for the course…but hey, you got par.  You got something done…so, Slam!  If you get two things done, you’ve got a Grand Slam day.  If you get three things crossed off your list, you’ve got a Super Slam!  Four gets you a SuperDuper Slam.  I’m not sure my brother had a category for five things accomplished…but if you’ve crossed five things off your list in one day, you’re probably feeling so good about yourself that you don’t need this system.

The Slam System is completely customizable—you can make your tasks as hard or as easy as you like, and include whatever you like.  I choose not to put walking my dog on the list, even though it’s exercise, because that’s pretty much automatic—but doing this blog absolutely counts!  However, I have to schedule it before I can count it as a point.  You could even elaborate on the system, so you get some other reward for your points at the end of the day.  But for me, just being able to say “I got a Super Slam today!” is enough.  And how much healthier is it, to end the day celebrating how much you’ve accomplished, instead fretting over how much you didn’t do?  So I’m going to spellcheck this and schedule it, and…Slam!

Hilari Bell writes SF and fantasy for kids and teens—and if she can get Scholar’s Plot (book 5 in the Knight & Rogue, series) out in November like she plans, it will be a Supercalifragalistic Slam.

 

All about Helping…

This month our topic was, well, there was no topic. It’s a “freebie” month. Scene13ers get to blog about anythingFirst Cover Reveal!they want. Well, normally I don’t like freebies. I freeze. I over-think until I can’t think. I stress myself out to the point that my stress is stressed. But this month something really great happened and I want to share.

Last month I shared that I signed a contract to publish my first young adult contemporary romance, “Unspeakable.” Now I have a novella, “Finding Willow,” releasing, too. But as great as that is, it’s not what I want to write about.

When I wrote my debut novel, “PODs,” I knew nothing about the writing community. I didn’t use critique partners or Betas—I didn’t know what a Beta was! I had no idea there were bloggers that lived to review books, nor did I know how many there were.

But writing “Unspeakable” I had a group of ladies who read my work and told me honestly what worked, what they liked, and what they loved. Man, that was a great feeling to hear them gush over my book! Then came the second half of their email… “And this is what sucks…” Well, that let the air out of my balloon.

Second Cover Reveal!

Second Cover Reveal!

So I read their critiques, did some rewriting and had some Beta readers take a look, mainly girls the age the book would be marketed toward, and of course my group of critique partners.

Their suggestions made a huge difference. “Unspeakable” went from a good book, to a great (IMHO) book. And I realize now how essential, how priceless my CPs and Betas are in my writing career.

But there’s one other group of people other than the bloggers who are golden to authors, CPs and Betas who are priceless, and that group is other authors.

I had two cover reveals in a week. I found out about both the day before. Whoa. So I started emailing anyone I could think of that might help. And the response was Amazing. Many of you already know this because you blog here, and you stepped-up and helped. I want to tell you, you are AWESOME.

The authors that dropped everything to set-up a post at the very last minute—twice—just rocked. The way they came together to help really showed me how tight the bond is between authors. Well, how it should be, anyway.

I love helping other authors. I keep a blog for that reason, and only that reason. But to have it turned around and the help focused on me was a very prodigious experience. And for those of you who helped, thank you. You made my cover reveals awesome.

How about you? Have you ever had a time when you needed help and authors or bloggers jumped in?

It's time to read!

Seasons’ Beginnings–Blurb and Cover Reveal

Coming October 2014…Seasons’ Beginnings, Book One of the fantasy Season Avatars series.

KroSeasons rgb, FINAL, med, low resn Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. When he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?

Click here to add it to Goodreads!

Update: pre-order is now available on Amazon. It will be released 10/21/14. Click here to pre-order it.

 

Two Releases on the Same Day!

I’ve been really busy lately preparing for two upcoming releases under my pen name Ashelyn Drake. Both blog tour are running at the same time. Why? Well, the books release the same day. That’s right. I have two titles releasing on September 9th. Here they are:

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Sophomore year in high school comes with its own set of problems. You’re no longer a freshmen, but you’re still two years away from ruling the school. So, you sit and languish in a kind of purgatory until junior year, when things start to get interesting.

That is, unless during your sophomore year, you find your boyfriend making out with another girl in front of your locker. Then, interesting takes on a whole new meaning, and that’s what happened to seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan. It’s no wonder her self-esteem suffered a major hit.

Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two guys at school (I know, right?). They happen to both be gorgeous, and each vies for her attention in the most flattering of ways. Sounds good, right? Not if one of the guys is her boyfriend, and the other one wants to be.

Meg doesn’t want to lose Ash. They’ve been together for almost five months, and she’s falling in love with him. But Noah. Ah, Noah. He’s the irresistible guy Meg has been crushing on for two years, and she isn’t ready to send him away either. But stringing both along could have disastrous results, leaving Meg in the cold once again.

One thing’s certain. Meg needs to decide between Ash and Noah soon, or she’ll lose her perfect match forever.

 

Expected publication: September 2014 by Swoon Romance

 

Add it on Goodreads.

 

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Sixteen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.

 

Releasing September 9, 2014 through Swoon Romance (ebook) and Month9Books (paperback).

Add it on Goodreads.

 

Blog Tour hosted by Chapter by Chapter:

WEEK 1:

9/8/2014             Medeia Sharif – Spotlight/Promo

9/8/2014             We Do Write – Interview

9/8/2014             A Backwards Story – Review

9/9/2014             Vicki Leigh, YA Author – Guest Post

9/9/2014             A Dream Within A Dream – Review

9/9/2014             Kelly P’s Blog – Spotlight/Promo

9/10/2014           Living in a Bookworld – Spotlight/Promo

9/10/2014           Bitches n Prose – Review

9/11/2014           Ketch’s Book Nook – Guest Post

9/11/2014           Bookreviewsandgiveaways – Review

9/12/2014           Angelia Almos – Interview

9/12/2014           Novels by G. Donald Cribbs – Review

9/13/2014           Jen McConnel: Weaving Words – Spotlight/Promo

9/13/2014           Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Review

9/14/2014           Library of a Book Witch – Review

WEEK 2:

9/15/2014           Writer’s Alley – Review

9/15/2014           Mythical Books – Guest Post

9/16/2014           Fi’s Magical Writing Haven – Interview

9/16/2014           Between fantasy and reality – Review

9/17/2014           Lost in Ever After – Review

9/17/2014           Rockin’ Book Reviews – Interview

9/18/2014           Reading Away The Days – Guest Post

9/18/2014           Book Briefs – Review

9/19/2014           Once Upon a YA Book – Character Interviw

9/19/2014           Nicky Peacock Author – Review

9/20/2014           Simplistic Reviews – Review

9/21/2014           Bookraptured – Review

I hope you’ll join me on the tours!

 

Behind the Scenes at RWA

Karen and I just returned from San Antonio, TX where we attended the Romance Writers of America Conference. We thought we’d share some of the highlights from the week so you could enjoy the fun with us. For writers, it’s always fun to share news and pictures from signings and reader events since it’s the most glamorous part of our work. Three hundred and fifty days of the year we are decidedly non-glamorous, parked on our couches and dreaming up scenes for our latest creations. To watch us work is not exciting! But when we meet with readers, it’s all good times.

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We had fun signing copies of our books for readers ruing the Literacy Autographing, where all the profits go toward literacy efforts. We were fortunate to find plenty of Young Adult readers in the crowd including these two awesome readers who snagged “I <3 my Camp Boyfriend” tees.

jkrwa14

We were thrilled to be nominated for a Booksellers Best Award for Camp Boyfriend this year and got to attend a reception for the finalists. We spread the word about the new book in our series, Camp Payback, and hope we intrigued some new readers to try the series. But we also got to leave the conference hotel to explore San Antonio, which was really fun. I snapped a pic of Karen on our riverboat cruise along the Riverwalk:

20140722_204052I’d never been to the city and we were so impressed at how pretty it was. And the restaurants? Wow! We had some amazing meals. Friday night was a party night and we went out to dinner with friends and then on to publisher parties. 

jkpreHQ party

So yes… non stop fun for days! You can imagine it’s tricky to settle back down and start working again after all that excitement. I really liked going out to dinner every day. I didn’t cook or clean, I just had fun celebrating the accomplishments of another writing year. But if we want to attend this event again, we’ll need to settle down soon and write some books. Next year, I’m inviting you all to attend RWA with us so you can visit with other readers and writers. Next year’s conference is in New York City where we can spend mornings sightseeing, afternoons talking about books, and evenings indulging in much better food than we get at home. It’s a real treat, and even if it’s only for a brief time each year, it’s a really nice reward for all the hard work of the days in between. 

 

When the heat rises, I start giving out prizes

It’s often heard that the publishing business slows down to a halt during summer. While that may be true, there are authors and publishers out there dishing out awesome prizes for readers, keeping the wheels of the book world spinning.

I’m no exception. I have three current giveaways going on, plus a couple coming up soon. Crazy, right? Well, an author has to do what an author has to do.

MTScoverHere are the current giveaways happening right now that you can take part in. Be sure to tell your friends!

The first one is on Goodreads. It goes on until October, so there’s plenty of time to enter. You can win one of three copies of MY TETHERED SOUL, and it’s open almost everywhere internationally! Check it out here!

The next two are Rafflecopter contests. One of them I’m running alone, and the prize is a $30 Amazon gift certificate. The other one I’m running with author Elizabeth Holloway, and the prizes are $50 Amazon or PayPal, signed paperbacks of our books, plus a creepy cool necklace.

Good luck to everyone who enters!

 

In the Moment

Babylon 5 was one of the best SF TV series, ever. (Firefly was better, but then Firefly is better than anything.) It had a five year story arc, fabulous characters, and even if I think J. Michael muffed the ending a bit, you really ought to take a few months and watch the whole thing. You won’t regret it.

But one particular episode has always stuck with me—the ship’s doctor encounters a traumatic event and decides to go walkabout in the station, which is big enough that this is feasible. His religion advises this, he tells another character. Every now and then you’re supposed to go wandering through the world until you meet yourself—metaphorically, of course. Then you’re supposed to experience this moment of incredible cosmic understanding. The episode’s climax ends with him being knifed in the lower levels of the station, a vision of himself appears to him…and rips him up one side and down the other for running off from his job, for his failure to deal with the trauma, for everything he’s done wrong in his life. Himself tells him that he’s not even worth saving, and he drags his bleeding body toward the access port where he might find help, murmuring, “I want to do it again. I want another chance. I want to do it again.” The whole episode is full of the intelligent, humorous irony that made Babylon 5 so wonderful, but it’s the final line that stays with me. The doctor, mostly recovered, goes to dance with a woman in a bar, and tells another character, “The moments are all we have.”

I think the reason this lingers in my mind, is that the more I know the truer it gets. Life, real life, is a series of moments in which we exist, right now. The past is certainly there to be learned from, and hopefully remembered fondly. The future should certainly be planned for, and worked toward… But right now is it. Right now is all we’ve really got. So as I struggle to get my revision done, despite some business chaos and the dog coming down with giardia, I try to remember to take the moments as they come. I watch birds at the feeder, feel the cool breeze coming over the field beside our house, and cuddle my poor good dog on my lap. I make time for coffee with a friend, and help my mom with her computer. I grant myself time to go to a movie, or play a video game.

Honestly, I’m not sure whether the revision, and all the other things I “should” be doing are the better for this or not. But I know I’m better for it, saner and happier—at least, in this moment. And after all, the moments are all we have.

Bell_Thief_cover-12-16Hilari writes SF and fantasy for kids and teens. Her most recent book is Thief’s War, the 4th book in her Knight & Rogue series—the book she’s currently revising is book 6!