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!

Christmas in July…

I had a totally different topic for this month, but I’ve been side-railed in the best way and I have to share it. Today I can officially announce that I signed with Clean Teen Publishing to publish my debut young adult contemporary romance: “Unspeakable!”

I’m so incredibly excited—it’s like Ch

Signing my contract with Clean Teen for "Unspeakable!"

Signing my contract with Clean Teen for “Unspeakable!”

ristmas in July. Or an early birthday present (mine’s in August). Either way, I’m over the moon. Unspeakable is one of those books that just touched me. I fell in love with the characters and their story. It was a book I really wanted published and I feel so blessed that I have that opportunity, especially with the great team at Clean Teen. They are wonderful!

So now I have a favor to ask of you. I need a street team and I need help building one. So if you could help me start it, name it, advertise it, give tips on creating a database for it and a google document, just about anything would be awesome because I’m totally starting from scratch and I’m really not sure how to start. If you have any ideas on a name, that would help. A lot of authors use their name somehow. I haven’t found a combination I like yet, so I’ve started using my nickname, “Mac.” A lot of you know my father passed away a year ago and never got to see my first book published. He was the only person who called me Mac. So it’d a tribute to him.

Anyway, getting way off topic. So Christmas in July…I got a book contract. What good news do you have? And remember, sometimes the smallest thing can be the biggest gift.

Blurb and Call for Beta Readers: Seasons’ Beginnings

Last month, I finished the second draft of Season’s Beginnings, Book One in my fantasy Season Avatars series. I am currently looking for beta readers for this project. Here’s what I have so far for the blurb:

Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. As 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?

If this sounds like something you’d like to beta read, please comment below or e-mail me at ulbrichalmazanATsbcglobalDOTnet. If you have any suggestions for improving the blurb, please let me know that as well. Thanks!



Title: Parallel Triangles
Release date: April 28th 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Formats: Paper, e-book
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20656543-parallel-triangles

Book Blurb:

How does a cruise change your life?
By sailing through the Bermuda Triangle.
Carly Carmichael has one goal in life–to perform on Broadway. She refuses to have a Plan B because she’s never needed one–until now. When Carly’s parents send her on a cruise as a graduation present, she takes her best friend and their boyfriends along with her. Once the ship sails into the Bermuda Triangle, Carly finds herself unable to sing or walk, much less perform. And things just go downhill from there. Hoping for help from the ship’s doctor, she ends up with more questions than answers about the mystery behind the Bermuda Triangle and why her life is now unrecognizable. If Carly can’t get her real life back on track, she may end up spending the next sixty years trapped in a life the Triangle chooses for her.

Author Bio:

Kimberly Ann Miller received Bachelor’s degrees from Georgian Court University and Rutgers University and a Master’s degree from The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She’s an avid reader and particularly enjoys true crime and young adult novels. She grew up in New Jersey and currently lives in Monmouth County with her husband and three cats. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel to sunny islands where she snorkels by day and stargazes by night. She always takes her Nook.

I’ll Take Romance in My YA

CampForgetMeNot_FinalCover_2014It’s no secret that the writers behind the JK Rock books are also adult romance authors. I (Joanne) have been writing romance for many years and have written widely across romance subgenres. A little romantic suspense here, a lot of medieval historical there, and a great deal of contemporary steamy stories over all. So when I thought about writing Young Adult novels, there had to be some romance in them.

When my sister-in-law writing partner, Karen, talked to me about possibly writing some YA books, that was my only caveat. I was all in for YA (I love YA!) but if I was going to put my stamp on a story, there had to be a love interest. It didn’t have to be the whole story, but it’s the part of the story I’m always most interested in, both as a reader and as a writer. I want romance, baby!

Falling in love is my story. It’s the tale that is important to me. I love hearing couples’ “first meet” tales or listening to older couples reminisce about the first time they saw one another. It doesn’t matter how old a guy is when he talks about the first time he saw “The One.” He is transported to that moment. He sees his loved one all over again in that perfect, shining light, with the movie slow-motion effect. Ten years, twenty ye9780373608706 (2)ars or fifty years later, it’s still a magical moment.

In YA stories, we aren’t always dealing with “The One.” Not many people find their love of a lifetime as a teenager, although it certainly happens. But I like that the experience of the duds—the cheaters, the liars, the people who don’t like you as much as you like them—all combine to give a character the vision and understanding to recognize the right person when they come along. Dating can be equals part fun and frustrating, but it’s necessary work to help us figure out what qualities we really need or want in a romantic interest. What are your deal breakers? What quirks can you live with and even learn to love?

I guess I like romance in my YA for all the obvious reasons—the swoony moments, the great kisses and my_ladys_favorthe encounters that make my heart beat faster. But I also like it for some less obvious ones. Romance teaches us about love and in doing so, it teaches us about ourselves. Even better, reading romance can provide some of those insights without all the risk to our hearts! I really think that reading romance helped me to know what things I couldn’t accept in a relationship. By reading about a heroine who got her heart broke, I could be a little wiser about dating.

Nothing takes the place of the real thing. Of course. But give me a love story any ay of the week. It’s a story that never gets old for me.

Where’s the Love?

OK, maybe this marks me as a crotchety spinster (heck, maybe this is why I’m a spinster, crotchety or not) but lately I’ve come across a number of romance manuscripts in which there’s all kinds of lust…and hardly any romance.  The protagonists take one look at each other, realize that their opposite number is sizzling hot, and after that there’s nothing but lust, interspersed with quarrels and story obstacles—and almost nothing of getting to know each other, getting to like each other, discovering why this really hot person is worthy of being loved…

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not a prude.  I don’t have any problem with a good sex scene.   (Though when you’ve got one every 20 or 30 pages they do get kind of repetitive.)  I also like nudity in movies, and profanity in most forms of fiction.  But if you’re going to call it a love story, shouldn’t there be a bit more connection in this personal connection?

I also have to confess that I don’t read a lot of romance (like you hadn’t guessed that already) but surely there should something more heartfelt, to even category romances than a classy version of, “Oooooh.  I’d like to get me some of that.”

I’ve lately found that even in the romances I read (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Elizabeth Lowell) I’ve been more interested in the relationships between minor characters than the protagonist’s romance, or with the mystery than the romance.

And maybe it is me…but whatever happened to “the meeting of true minds?”  Whatever happened to hearts and souls, as well as bodies?

In fairness, I should say that I think it’s a lot harder to create characters who fall in love for reasons of character, instead of hormones, and that I don’t think I could do it—though I’m beginning to be inspired to try.

For my money, the best romance writer today is SF author Lois McMaster Bujold, and I think the reason her romances work so well for me is because her characters aren’t interchangeable.  In most romances, you could probably swap any of the author’s heroines or heroes out for any of their other protagonists, and write exactly the same book—but I can’t imagine Aral or Cordelia ever loving anyone but each other.  The Sharing Knife series is the most “romantic” of all Bujold’s books, and Fawn and Dag’s May/December love story works for all kinds of reasons.  But mostly it works because, while I must admit that Fawn might have been able to find happiness with someone else, she was clearly Dag’s last chance for happiness in this life—and he gave up just about everything to hold onto her because he knew it.  (Though I have to say, that first sex scene between Fawn and Dag was delightful—but that was probably because it was more about Fawn and Dag than about sex.)

Anyway, does anyone but me feel the same way?  And what authors have you found, whose characters fall in love, as well as in lust?

 Bell_Thief_cover-12-16Hilari writes SF and fantasy for kids and teens—without, it must be confessed, a lot of romance.