Monday, June 3, 2013

Insight, by Terron James, Blog Tour

Today's blog post is a little bit of me, and a little bit of a friend, and a little bit about an awesome new book, Insight, by Terron James. 

When Terron started preparing the publicity part of his book release, and he asked if I was interested in receiving an advanced reader copy (or ARC) of his book in exchange for an honest review, I enthusiastically responded yes! I've seen bits of his writing at work before, and it's good, but also, his book sounded awesome, and I really love to collect ARCs! There's something really special, I think, about having something that's never going to be for sale. I feel like I'm in on an exciting secret.

So, his publicist sent me an email, asking me what I'd like to have Terron write about for a guest post, if anything. And this leads to a confession. I'm sort of an author-blog-stalker. Whenever I fall in love with the writing of a new author, I like to find out their back story -- just like I would want to know the back story of a really great character in a book. It's because I'm inspired by them, and by how they became writers.  

This was my response to Terron's publicist, "One of the things I like to do when I'm becoming familiar with a new author is to gain a better understanding of their back-story, so to speak. How did they go from a regular job to an author? Obviously, for most first time authors, they still work in their regular jobs, but the adventure of writing your first novel is still an interesting one. And often times, your first published novel is not your first novel. I'd love to hear about that from Terron. How did he get to this point -- the point at which he is officially a published novelist?"

And here is what Terron had to say, "I could write a novel about my writing journey (and perhaps I will some day), so I'll try to keep this post focused on the main points. I'm also going to bare the truth a little, at the risk of discrediting myself. *glances warily over shoulder to see if publicist is looking* Yup, that's what I'm gonna do.

I wrote my first short story in 7th grade. The story itself was blah, but I can still remember the inspiration I felt 21 years ago as I wrote it. Pure euphoria, truly! Unfortunately, I let myself forget. Aside from a few romantic and therapeutic poems that I wrote in the late 1990s, I didn't exercise my creative talent again until 2008, when I first started writing INSIGHT.

*glances over shoulder again, then leans forward and speaks in a whisper*

Don't tell anyone, but not only is INSIGHT my debut novel, but it is also the first real story I ever attempted to write. Perhaps that's why I spent 2 years writing, then another 3 years revising. It needed a lot of work from the original draft. That being said, I couldn't believe how my writing improved by the time I finished writing the rough draft of INSIGHT, then even further after the waves of edits. I suppose it shouldn't be too surprising, though. 135,000 words will do that to a fella.

I hope that, rather than discouraging people from reading INSIGHT, my experiences will inspire writers around the globe. Prodigism isn't necessary to become a published author. Come closer and I'll tell you the real secret. You ready?


As you can probably imagine (or maybe you can't, but it doesn't really matter), there have been countless opportunities during the past five years when I could have easily thrown in the towel. The sad thing is, if I had done it then, I would've felt completely justified in my decision. I wouldn't have felt bad about it at all, but I also wouldn't have been able to experience the joy of seeing my book on a international bookstore's shelf last Saturday.

Closing thought. I am a firm believer that our worst experiences in life also become our best experiences, but ONLY if we conquer them. We all love a good "defy all odds" story, full of tension and near failures. "Near" is the key operating word, here; situations where people are pushed to the very edge of their limits, perhaps even past, but they scramble up and stomp on the opposition. Remember this. Success rarely comes packaged in the mail with a pretty, pink bow and a welcome card attached. Usually it requires more blood and sweat than we think we have in us. I'm here to tell you, if I could do it, you can do it. START NOW! Tomorrow is procrastination's best friend. They meet for tea and crumpets every Thursday afternoon."

Do you see how clever and witty he is???

His book, Insight, will not disappoint.

I won't spoil it for you ... just a taste! 

The book centers around three main characters; Lon, his twin sister, Mellai, and his betrothen, Kaylen. From the very beginning of the story, Lon is struggling with powers known as True Sight, which identify him as a Beholder. The True Sight is the power that binds the world together, and as a Beholder, Lon can see it, if in the right emotional state, and he can use it. The problem is, the right emotional state seems to come only when he's frustrated, angry or otherwise upset, and he can't control the outcome. These powers are overwhelming him, and his family has no idea how to help him get them under control. If something isn't done soon, Lon's going to die, or someone he love will be caught in the crossfire. 

After an accident hurts Kaylen, Lon leaves their small village in search of help from the very people he was raised to hate the most, the Rayders. Lon's father believes there is one man who will be able to teach him what he needs to know. In order to gain his trust, Lon will need to become a Rayder and gain status among them. The plan is to gain status within the Rayder tribes, and then betray them later on down the line by abandoning them -- much like his father did when he met his mother. But will Lon stick to the plan? Lon hatches a different sort of a plan in the end. You will be surprised by the outcome. 

What I loved about Insight the most was the magic. I am a magic junkie, and the magic in this book was COOL! Right from the prologue, James has you sucked in by the magic system, and wondering where it came from and what it is. I also like how rare the magic is. Rather than living in a magical society, Lon is in danger, both by the people who find out about his magic, and by himself because he can't control it. His magic became much stronger as he approached his coming of age. When I write about magic, that's typically how I approach it, as well -- with the magic growing stronger as the character gets older -- so I really identified with that. 

I also thought that the relationships were extremely well done, particularly the tender love that Lon and Kaylen shared right from the start. It was so sad, when he had to leave.

It's a sweeping epic fantasy, and all that comes with that. For me, one of the downsides to epics is the length. I tend to like a quicker read. Also, it takes a lot longer to set up the story in a book like this, but the good thing about that is that they usually come in long series, so the second one should be much easier to get into. In fact, I can't wait to dig into the second one! The side stories were good, and he kept them together well. 

In the end, I will say that I hope I'm invited to participate somehow with the release of the next book, because it's been really fun to watch Terron's excitement as this weekend approached (the release was actually June 1st). One major reason I hope this is because a big perk of getting an advanced reader copy is that they're advanced. Less waiting! I can't wait for more of this story!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Bomb For Ben Wolverton

I'm about to mix up two of my worlds here. My first blog entry talked all about the privacy afforded to me by my pen name, and I'm going to share something pretty private.

Deep breath.

For two years, my family has been engaged in a hard battle. My 5 year old son is fighting leukemia. He was 3 at his diagnosis. It's been a long, hard road, and we aren't the same people we were before, but we're stronger and braver now, and most importantly we are all more compassionate. I am especially proud to see that in my children. 

This calls to me today because in my circle of writing friends online, there has been a call to help a family experiencing medical crisis. It speaks to my soul and I want to help. I hope that the people who are interested in reading what I write will also be stirred with a desire to help. (Besides the fact that we're talking about awesome books....)

What happened?

Ben Wolverton, who is 16 years old, had a major longboarding accident last week. If you don't know what longboarding is, check out this video:

As you can see, these kids get going really fast, and they get pretty tricky. As I understand it, like skiing, if you do it properly, with proper equipment, it's relatively safe. But an accident is an accident, and when they happen, they happen on a big scale. That's what happened to Ben. 

His injuries are extensive, but to name a few, he has had trauma to his head, causing him to remain in a coma, and he has burned his lungs, he is covered in road rash, he has broken eardrums, and he has a broken pelvis and tailbone. His recovery will be a long one. 

I can picture them looking back on this day, two years from now, and being grateful for the compassion that they learned from the compassion that people showed them. That's how it works. People pay it forward.

His dad is a well-known author, named David Farland. He wrote the Runelord books, which have seen lots of popularity, and he has been a mentor to many of the people I, personally, look to as mentors. His books continue to win awards. Unfortunately, right now, his family has no medical insurance. Ben's medical bills are expected to rise above $1 million. 

Medical crisis is hard. It makes it feel particularly unfair when it buries you in piles of bills. I can empathize with that, and we were relatively well insured when my son got sick. My heart hurts for what this family must be feeling right now. The worry they must be feeling. In the midst of the crisis, the only thing that matters is the safety of your child, but the reality is that somehow, you still have to feed your family. 

What can you do?

The writing communities I belong to came up with the idea of using a book bomb to help. I did a little bit of research on a book bomb, and the gist of it is this: if lots of people band together to buy a single book on the same day, it will boost the sales figures. The rest seems intuitive, but I'll say it anyway -- if the numbers are boosted, that book will appear at the top of the book lists, therefore recommending it when people are searching for a new book to buy, and therefore further boosting that book's sales. Pretty brilliant, if you ask me. A chain reaction that will continue to bless this family during their time of need.

They chose two books for the bombing. Personally, I'm going to buy them both. 

The first book is Nightengale:

Here's the book description (it looks AWESOME!): 

"Some people sing at night to drive back the darkness.  Others sing to summon it. . . .

Bron Jones was abandoned at birth. Thrown into foster care, he was rejected by one family after another, until he met Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognized him for what he really was--what her people call a "nightingale."

But Bron isn't ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know.  Bron's secret may be the most dangerous of all."

The second book is Million Dollar Outlines:

Here's the book description:

"Bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

In this book, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence."

If you're a writer, you should consider buying them both, too. Both are award-winning books, with loads of praise. 

If you happen to have both, or don't want or need either one, you can also donate directly to the Wolvertons at

In the beginning, help comes in like crazy. After some time, it wanes. My hope is that since this is the first big push for help, it will be wildly successful. Trust me, it always feels good to help a family in need! And this time, you get a great book or two out of it.