Alycia Christine

Vivid Fiction, Epic Photography

Category: Books (Page 1 of 4)

Finally, that marathon I promised you…

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything because my new day job confiscated my life during the month of January. I’ve been stealing scraps of time to write my newest pirate novella, but haven’t been able to do much else. Consequently, I had to postpone the book reading marathon that was scheduled for January. That being said, I’m excited to announce that we are finally starting The Dryad’s Sacrifice reading marathon on Facebook today. We’ll be reading and discussing the Prologue and Chapter 1 if you want to join us. If you’ve ever wanted to know how a book was created–or at least how this book was created–now is your chance. For the next 10 days, we will have daily inspirational quotes, author insights, a lot of crazy Q&A, and, of course, daily prizes. I can’t wait to see what you have to say! Come join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1695736057307543/!

Warmly,
Alycia

P.S.-If you helped support author Brandon Barr in December and January, thank you so much! His fight with cancer is ongoing thanks in part to stem cell transplants. For updates on his ongoing fight, check out his YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaQbFWrJcQD1VKG_Zeb-TXQ.

Dreamdrifter Pre-Orders are Here!

I hope this week finds you well and ready for some fun! I am pleased to announce that Dreamdrifter is now available for pre-order! For those of you who haven’t gotten into the Sylvan Cycle series yet, there is no better time to try it. The e-books of Dreamdrifter and Skinshifter (Dreamdrifter’s prequel) are both on sale right now for only $0.99.
Dreamdrifter_Cover_1-1600x2400

Buy Dreamdrifter at:
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Buy Skinshifter at:
Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Although reviews can’t be posted on Dreamdrifter’s official sales pages yet, but several beta readers have mentioned to me that they couldn’t put the book down.

Rather than just tell you about the book, I thought you might like to read some of it for yourself. Here is an excerpt from Dreamdrifter, Book Two of the Sylvan Cycle series:

Prologue

“Master Daeryn, I am sorry to keep you waiting,” King Kaylor’s personal envoy said, in what he hoped was an even tone of voice as they greeted each other with a bow. He was struck by how much of Marga’s visage was reflected in this handsome male’s appearance.

“With all due respect, Your Excellency, I had expected to meet with His Majesty this evening, not you,” Daeryn said.

The ghoul Curqak suppressed the tremor of fear that coursed through him at hearing something so close to Caleb’s voice after all these years. Instead the envoy affected an urbane smile—tight-lipped to hide his pointed, yellow teeth—and gestured for his guest to take a seat in a nearby chair. “Of course, my apologies, Good Sir, but I’m afraid no one sees King Kaylor without speaking with me first, as is the age-old custom of the Tyglesean court. Now, you did state that the matter in question was urgent, so shall we come to it at last?”

Daeryn narrowed his eyes, but sat nonetheless. As Curqak sat down opposite his guest, he felt sudden sweat bead up through the heavy makeup cloaking his ashen face and black-tipped ears. Would Daeryn be able to sense the decrepit state of his body underneath all the finery, just as Daeryn’s mother had? If Daeryn discerned him to be a deadwalker…but no, the male was now busying himself with repositioning a chair cushion and surely couldn’t smell the charnel scent masked by Curqak’s heavy perfume…

“Where is my mother?” Daeryn asked.

“I beg your pardon?”

“My mother Marga disappeared over a year ago. She was last seen in this kingdom, so where…precisely…is she?”

Daeryn leaned close into Curqak’s painted face and, in doing so, revealed that he too wore makeup to cover his pallid features, and had styled his long black hair to cover the black tips of his pointed ears. Could the rumors possibly be true? Was there more of the vampires’ lineage than either the elves or humans in this hybrid that should have never been able to be conceived?

Curqak gulped hard, but did not break gaze with Daeryn’s penetrating blue eyes. “She did of course come here to speak with the king and queen, My Sir, but it has been more than eleven months since she left our borders.”

“Going where?”

“The guards told me she and her entourage rode northeast. I presumed she would return home to your family once her task here was complete.”

“Why did she come here?”

Curqak feigned shock and dismay. “Well, of course to discuss ongoing negotiations between the Ring of Sorcerers and the king.”

Daeryn sat back heavily in his chair, rubbing the faint stubble on his chin with a gloved hand and frowning.

“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, Master Daeryn,” Curqak said consolingly. “But that is all I know.”

They sat in silence as a servant placed a silver tray laden with mulled wine, mead, bread, cheese, and fruit on the table nearest them and then left the palace chamber. Curqak lazily watched her shut the large door and then turned to survey the food. Normally he made a good show of eating and drinking with guests, purging himself in privacy soon afterward. Today, however, he doubted such a show of normalcy was necessary. After all, if the rumors were true, then Daeryn likely consumed nothing but blood just as Curqak did and therefore would not touch this proffered fare.

Daeryn surprised him by walking to the table and pouring wine for himself and his host. “Forgive me, Excellency, but when did you say my mother left the country?”

“Oh, about ten or eleven months ago.”

“And she was traveling which direction at the time?” Daeryn said as he turned back toward Curqak. He handed the envoy a silver goblet even as he drank from his own.

After a sip, Curqak frowned down at the liquid; it was more acrid than usual, but it gave him a nice warm tingle inside his body. He smiled and took another swig. Of course he would have to rid his stomach of it soon, but the discomfort of retching later seemed a fair trade for the comforting feeling he was enjoying just now. I certainly must speak with the sommelier about procuring more of this particular vintage, he thought.

Daeryn cleared his throat. “Your Excellency?”

“Hmm?”

“You said that my mother traveled southeast out of the country?”

Curqak nodded after another greedy gulp.

“You lie.”

Curqak froze mid-swallow and stared at Daeryn over the rim of his cup. The hybrid had taken off his gloves and his gray cloak and kicked them out of his way as he seized the emissary by his embroidered doublet. Curqak’s goblet clattered to the limestone tile floor as Daeryn yanked him off of his feet. The envoy heard fabric tear and watched as two huge, pale dragon-like wings emerged from the hybrid’s back. Three flaps of those membrane pinions thrust the two of them high into the air and out of the open balcony doors. Curqak shrieked as they flew beyond Castle Summersted’s ramparts and on over the rolling sea.

“Scream if you wish, but none can rescue your worthless hide here, deadwalker.” Daeryn’s eyes were like smoldering embers. His lips parted to reveal a pair of growing white fangs as he clenched the trembling ghoul in one hand and kindled a fireforger’s yellow flame with the other.

“Please, please! Spare me, I beg of you!” Curqak shouted as the wind roared passed his black-tipped ears.

“Why should I?” Daeryn shouted back as he pumped his wings, pushing them still higher into the sky.

The ghoul could feel his face begin to warm. The makeup was the only reason that the delicate skin of his cheeks and ears had not yet blistered in the dreadful sunlight. “I will tell you anything you want to know!”

“Oh, that you certainly will. I have already seen to that by drugging the wine.”

“I will do anything you ask of me short of betraying my own master, which I will not do.”

“Then name yourself!”

“I am called Curqak both by my former master Calais and by my current master.”

“You were once my father’s servant? Before he was Redeemed?”

“Yes. I was given to your father as a gift by my current master, so that he could learn how to perfect the vampire’s bite of servitude. I became his first bitten and most loyal valet until our souls’ tie was broken by his Redemption.”

“Name your current master, ghoul.”

“The Víchí High Elder Luther.”

“And what assignment did Luther give to you?”

“First, to hunt down and bring to him the twelve Keystones of legend; second, to Turn or kill all suspected fulfillers of Third Age Prophesy.”

“And how did you get past the enchantments protecting the Sylvan Continent from entry?”

Curqak moaned as he realized they had flown past the shore and out over the waves of the accursed sea. He retched in spite of himself. “A Tyglesean traitor smuggled me here in the bowels of his ship. It was the worst torture I have yet experienced.”

“‘Yet’ being the operative word, ghoul.” Daeryn snarled. “After the tales I’ve heard of your achievements during the Second War of Ages, you deserve that torture and much more.” They were descending now, swooping toward a tiny island a mere league beyond the shore’s jagged gray cliffs. They landed smoothly amid the dunes and then Daeryn hauled a now trembling and whimpering Curqak to the edge of the lapping waves. Despite the power of the incoming waves, Daeryn stood firm as he held his victim over the water. Curqak winced as he felt the salty spray on his legs.

“Listen to me carefully, Curqak. You will tell me everything I want to know or I will burn your face with the weakest fireforger’s flame while setting your legs in the churning sea. Do you understand?”

Curqak gulped.

“Good,” Daeryn almost purred. “I found the ashes and bodies of Mother’s escorts and of deadwalkers not three leagues from Castle Caerwyn, but Marga’s remains were not among them. So what have you done with my mother?”

“She was taken to Luther’s stronghold on the Northern Continent for questioning.”

“Blaecthull? Why?”

Curqak grimaced. “She is the keeper of the Keystones, but she would not tell me where she had hidden them. Luther has better ways of loosening her tongue than I.”

“And he would risk the presence of a fireforger that powerful in his own fortress? He must be insane! She could lay waste to the entire keep and every deadwalker in it with ease!”

Curqak nodded. “Marga certainly tried. Fortunately, there is a water cave there, which is strong enough to subdue her. After all, she is not like you and has only fireforging magic at her beck and call.”

“And so she is Luther’s captive.” Anguish crept into Daeryn’s gaze then. “What will it take to free her?”

Curqak felt a glimmer of triumph deep within his foggy mind. Was it possible that he might ensnare this male, just as he had trapped his mother? “Master Luther will likely want a trade: either the twelve Keystones in place of Marga or another captive of equal importance.”

“Do you know the whereabouts of the Keystones?”

Curqak shook his head, his eyes squinted shut with the pain of the searing sun and the swirling sea. “I knew of one—the Firesprite’s Sapphire, which Marga had brought to the priesthood here to protect; she did not trust other members of the General Council of Mages. Before I could attain it, Queen Manasa’s youngest brat ran off with the jewel and I cannot find her!”

Daeryn frowned. “So it must be a trade of beings then.”

“Likely, but I’m uncertain who Master Luther would consider worthy of exchange.”

Daeryn pursed his lips over shrinking fangs as he extinguished the flame in his clawed left hand and pulled the dangling Curqak away from the water with his right. When the hybrid released the ghoul, the deadwalker fell trembling to his knees in the dry sand. Before Curqak could think to flee, however, Daeryn shoved him onto his back and pinned him flat under his own heavier bulk. Daeryn forced the ghoul’s mouth open and dripped a pearlescent liquid from one of his claws down the back of the deadwalker’s raw throat.

Heat shot through Curqak’s body and every muscle felt alive with warmth. How long had it been since he had truly felt warm or alive? When had he died? It must have been hundreds of winters ago, but now the ghoul could scarcely remember it. The full-powered serum made his mind fuzzy and his body limp, but he no longer cared as he reveled in this newfound comfort.

“Ask me anything, Master Daeryn,” he whispered.

Daeryn’s answering smile was cold. “Tell me exactly how my father successfully Turned you.”

~
Dreamdrifter officially releases on September 30, 2016!

As an added bonus for those of you interested in reading Skinshifter as a group before Dreamdrifter releases, several readers are doing a Skinshifter Reading Marathon over in the Sylvan Scribes Community Facebook group beginning September 1.

I’ll be popping in and out throughout the marathon with interesting quotes, facts, and giveaways. I’d love to have everyone join in for the fun and freebies. Email me or message me on Facebook if you’re interested and I’ll add you to the discussion!

I’ll be back soon with more news and excerpts as things progress. Until then, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Warm wishes,
Alycia

~

The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | Dreamdrifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Drawn Art | BW & Sepia | Animal | Earth | Flowers | Trees | Mountains | Objects | Urban | Water | MORE

You’re Not a Real Author

Skinshifter_Cover_9-4x6Since I began independently publishing my books in 2012, I’ve encountered an attitude among the writing and publishing communities that absolutely baffles me. When some people discover that I’m self-published, they often react with a knowing roll of their eyes as if to say, “Oh, no, it’s another one of those aspiring author wannabes.” Imagine my disbelief when someone actually said that I as an indie author wasn’t a real author. Um, ladies and gentlemen, I have five books and over a dozen short stories published in multiple formats and available across five continents. How am I anything but a real author?

Dryad_Sacrifice_Cover-4x6As far as I can remember, a person becomes a writer when someone publishes something that he or she has written and a writer becomes an author when someone publishes a book that he or she has written. If a piece of writing has appeared to the reading public in an easily digestible format (i.e. in a blog, newspaper, magazine, or book), it’s considered published. Consequently, the barrier to entry to be a writer is penning one published article. The barrier to entry to be an author is one published book. To be fair, in order to be considered a professional writer or author, you must be paid for the writing that you publish. Some groups will argue that there is a set amount of money that you should be paid to be considered professional, but money is money. When money is paid for a good or a service, that monetary exchange counts as a business transaction. Therefore, the writer who is paid that money is a professional writer, not an amateur writer and certainly not an aspiring writer.

Thorn_Thistle_3-4x6When I worked as a market reporter and journalist for the Livestock Weekly newspaper, I was paid to write 30-40 articles every week for publication. Over a period of two years, that professional writing workload meant that I produced almost 1,200 published articles. My boss who was the publisher and owner of the newspaper also wrote articles for every LW publication. Those articles were then proofed by our editor, pieced together by our graphic designer, processed by our printer, and then printed on the printing press that we stored in the back of the office building. In effect, my boss Bobby was self-publishing. And he was self-publishing in one of the premier agriculture newspapers in the United States. No one would dare say that Bobby wasn’t a real writer just because his articles were published in his own newspaper. If anything, our readers’ main complaint was that they wanted more of our newspaper with all of its timely information even faster.

Now I’m a few years older and I find myself doing something similar to what Bobby’s father did in his youth: build my own publishing company and write my own published material. Unlike Bobby’s 10-person company, my press is so small that I have to contract out-of-house for everything from editing to printing. Even so, much of the process is the same. Each book is written, rewritten, beta tested, edited, proofed, formatted for print, formatted for electronic publication, proofed again, and sent off into the wild blue yonder via distributors and retailers for purchase and perusal by readers.

Musings_Cover-4x6ACI’ll admit that the quality control process is more in-depth for books than it is for newspapers, yet I would never say that newspapers produce an inferior form of writing. After all, one of the world’s most prestigious writing awards—the Pulitzer—is given to journalists. Whatever the field, it takes a great amount of discipline and dedication to produce informative and engaging writing on a daily basis. Writing is not an easy achievement, but it is a crucial accomplishment.

I think the essential question in this debate is not whether indie authors are “real” authors, but whether indie authors write high-quality work. As in traditional publishing, the answer depends on the writing skill of the individual author in question, not on the method that author uses to achieve publication.

FirstFruitsCover2As for myself, I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to write my best for my readers each and every single day. When I began my writing career, writing my best meant that I worked as a traditionally published journalist and fiction writer. I became an indie author when traditional publishing proved too slow of a system to help me get my books to the people who wanted to read them. Now I work as a hybrid author—constantly flitting back and forth between the two publishing methods. No matter which method I use to get my words out there, my incredible readers are my final indicators of quality. Their opinion is what matters most to me. No matter what anyone else says, it is my readers who make me a real author. Consequently, the only thing left for me to aspire to be is a better writer than I was yesterday. Love and thanks to my readers! You are all amazing!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia

~

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!

Books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle| Musings | First Fruits | FREE STUFF

Artwork:
Birds | Bugs | Graphic Art | Flowers | Landscapes | Leaves | Mammals | Romance | Objects | MORE

Twelve Books of Christmas Reading Challenge & Scavenger Hunt

"Ice Oak Ornaments" photograph - Click to enlarge or buy.

“Ice Oak Ornaments” photograph – Click to enlarge or buy.

We’re weeks away from Christmas and, of course, I’m excited! This year I thought it might be a lot of fun for readers if I issued you all a Christmas/Winter reading challenge. My challenge is this: read 12 books by January 31. To sweeten the deal, each book must be based on a different theme which is listed below:

    Angels We Have Heard: a book with angels or heaven in it
    Candy Cane Colors: a book that has red and white or red and green on its cover
    Christmas Tree: a book that takes place in a forest
    Snowflake: a book where snow or winter is a prominent part of the story
    Sleigh Ride: a book that has horses or a sleigh in it
    Three Kings: a book with a king or kings in it
    Christmas Feast: a book which is more than 450 pages in length
    Figgy Pudding: a book which is less than 300 pages in length
    Star of Wonder: a book featuring stars either on its cover or in its title
    Under the Mistletoe: a book in which two characters fall in love
    Toy Soldier: a book with at least one battle scene in it
    Away in a Manger: a book which features the birth of Jesus Christ in some way

These books can be fiction or nonfiction (although I think the fiction would be more fun).

For better or worse, here are some of my picks:

Read them if you wish or substitute your own books.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

The Moments When Pictures Really Are Worth a Thousand Words

Root_Lattice-4x6AC(This blog article has been re-posted due to a website glitch.) There are photographs that I have taken—some recent, some years ago—that inform the way I imagine a certain fiction scene. One of the great examples of this was a photo that I shot when I was a teenager while on vacation with my parents in the Smoky Mountains. The image in question was of a staircase which led up the side of a hill. However, this was no ordinary staircase. It was one which was literally built out of the roots of trees as they wove their way through the earth.

Unfortunately I do not have the photograph anymore, but the memory of that image directly informed my vision of how the architecture would look on Mount Sol’ece in the Sylvan Cycle and Sylvan Prelude book series. I wanted to incorporate the tree root staircase into the dryads’ world because it really fits with their culture. In my books, dryads don’t build their buildings so much as grow them. Consequently, most of their infrastructure and architecture is based on tree roots and tree branches woven around rock.

There is only on other photograph that I’ve ever shot that comes close to capturing the feeling of that original root staircase. That image is “Root Lattice”—a photo I took two years ago while journeying with my husband through the temperate rain forest near Ketchikan, Alaska. While I have used this image to help me imagine some of my dryads’ dwellings, it mainly informs the look of the mysterious trees makes that make their appearance in my Musings short story “What Tendrils Echo”. I hope this photo provides others with as much writing inspiration as it has me.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Wildflowers Verses Pirates

"Wild Joy" - click the image to enlarge or buy.

“Wild Joy” – click the image to enlarge or buy.

I stepped outside my kitchen door this morning and discovered a beautiful surprise. Little white and purple wildflowers had bloomed in the green grass blanketing the earth just below my balcony. I’m not sure what they are, but they look like miniature daisies. Each flower’s head is no larger than a dime! I’m quite sure others would consider them weeds, but for me, they are a colorful display of wild joy. That was something I treasured this morning.

The past two weeks have in an emotional roller coaster ride much like the rest of this summer. Now that Skinshifter, The Dryad’s Sacrifice, and Thorn and Thistle are published, I can concentrate on my other writing. I’m hard at work creating Sloop and Sword, the sequel to Thorn and Thistle. I’ve also seen the first review of Thorn and Thistle by a reader, who gave the fantasy pirate novella a 5-star review! Of the three books, Thorn and Thistle was the one that I have worried over the most because I had so little production time to spend on it compared to the others. Apparently, I stressed for nothing. The reviewer thought the story was well-written and especially loved the unique ending, which is something I adore as well. It completes the story’s plot and character arcs in a surprising way, while giving me a great jumping point to use in continuing the tale.

Thanks to all of you, Skinshifter and Thorn and Thistle did fairly well in their first two weeks of sales; however, we have a long way to go before these books can find their way into all of the right readers’ hands. If you have suggestions on that front or any questions about my stories, let me know. I’ve already had a few readers ask me if I would create world maps for each of the books, so I’ve added those to my production list. I hope to begin work on the maps as soon as I finish the rough draft for Sloop and Sword. Right now, I have a fourth of the novella written and the characters have already endured two sword fights, a kidnapping, a double-crossing, and one really creepy swamp. The full manuscript is due to my editor in mid-November. Wish me luck!

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Reminder: Guest Blog and Skinshifter Excerpt for 9/28

Blood_Moon_AC4x6Reminder: I have a guest blog over at Mama Reads Hazel Reads and a Skinshifter excerpt at the Alpha Fangirl Book Blog today. Enjoy! Also, don’t forget to check out the Skinshifter Tour Raffle Giveaway at Alpha Fangirl. Thanks!

Three New Books On Sale + Skinshifter Blog Tour Schedule!

Skinshifter_Cover_9-4x6They’re finally here! Skinshifter, The Dryad’s Sacrifice, and Thorn & Thistle are now available on Amazon! I’m so happy…and nervous…and hopeful that you absolutely love them! The books are usually priced at $2.99 or $3.99, but right now I’m offering them (as well as everything else I’ve written) for $0.99 each in celebration of this crazy multi-release!

Buy the Kindle e-books:
Skinshifter | The Dryad’s Sacrifice | Thorn & Thistle | other titles

For those of you who prefer your reading old-school style, you can pick up the print version of Skinshifter for $15.99. I love this version of the book with its elegant chapter title art and gorgeous front and back covers.

Buy the Skinshifter print book.

Readers who prefer other e-book formats besides Kindle will see Skinshifter, The Dryad’s Sacrifice, and Thorn & Thistle at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords on December 24th—just in time for Christmas!

Pre-order on these platforms now!
Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Also, don’t miss the SKINSHIFTER BLOG TOUR! Win prizes, read interviews, check out guest blogs and more! All the fun starts on Monday and lasts until October 9!

Play my blog’s free Sylvans vs. Deadwalkers Game.
______

The Official Skinshifter Tour is here!

SCHEDULE

From September 28 – October 9 read reviews, author interviews, guest posts and excerpts.

9/28
Guest Post – Mama Reads Hazel Reads
Excerpt – Alpha Fangirl Book Blog
9/29
Excerpt – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
Review – Candace’s Book Blog
9/30
Review – The Travelogue of a book addict – The Book Drealms
Excerpt – Coffee Books & Art
10/1
Interview – WS Momma Readers Nook
Review & Guest Post – Maureen’s Books
10/2
Excerpt – Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions
Excerpt – Books and Warpaint
10/5
Review – Terry’s Book Addiction
10/6
Excerpt – CBY Book Club
Review – Alpha Book Club
10/7
Excerpt – My Love for Reading Keeps Growing
Review & Guest Post – Second Run Reviews
10/8
Excerpt – The Tome Gnome
Excerpt – Jael’s Reviews
10/9
Review – Born Bookish
Excerpt – Turbulence In The Eye Of The Storm

About Skinshifter:

Skinshifters are a curse. The Asheken deadwalkers proved that fact when they used skinshifters to spy against the Sylvan races during the Second War of Ages. Now, after three centuries of peace, the deadwalkers have found a secret way back onto the Sylvan Continent and this time they seek not just to conquer their enemies, but to enslave them body and soul.

When the Feliconas Clan suffers the deadwalkers’ first raid, one werecat—a skinshifter who has concealed her abilities—survives the massacre. Even as Katja struggles with her grief and guilt over her murdered kin, she must unite with other Sylvan refugees to defeat the deadwalkers before they can butcher and defile the other races. But can this skinshifter trust her newfound allies or will their secrets prove even more treacherous than her own?

Reviews:

“As involved as it is vividly eloquent, Alycia Christine’s Skinshifter…is fueled by engagingly twisted fantasy elements, vivid imagery, appealing characters, rousing adventure and terse storytelling.” –Bestsellers World

“Action is well done, tension is wonderfully detailed and maintained throughout, and fantasy readers will find in Katja an appealing, believable character whose quest and concerns drive a story line that is vivid, accessible, and involving.” –D. Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

About the Author:

AlyciaHeadShot8-2012-2x3Alycia Christine grew up near the dusty cotton fields of Lubbock, Texas. She fell in love with fantasy and science fiction stories when her father first read Gordon R. Dickson’s THE DRAGON AND THE GEORGE and Robert A. Heinlein’s HAVE SPACESUIT—WILL TRAVEL to her at age ten. Her love-affair with fiction deepened when Alycia took a creative writing course while attending Texas A&M University. After that class, she was hooked as a writer for life. Her subsequent B.S. degree in agricultural journalism not only helped to hone Alycia’s skills with a pen, but also with a camera. Today she uses her skills as a photographer to capture the beauty of the world around her and add additional perspective to her fiction and nonfiction writing.


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Writing as a Business: What Jurassic Park and Jurassic World can teach us About Writing Trends

"Squish" Click to view larger or buy.

“Squish” Click to view larger or buy.

My husband and I finally went to see Jurassic World this weekend and we loved it! The movie packed solid action and great special effects into a storyline that seemed at once familiar and surprising. I didn’t expect the plot to be terribly sophisticated, but I thoroughly enjoyed running around with the characters nonetheless.

I remember seeing Jurassic Park when I was a teenager and being so excited (and scared) to see such lifelike dinosaurs on the silver screen. After two hours of watching them interact with one another and with humans, I really did believe them to be real animals instead of computer-generated models. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Now, some 20 years later, a reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise has once again taken movie-going audiences by storm. Jurassic World boasts more of our favorite species of dinosaurs and a new set of characters to love packaged inside a man-verses-nature plot that’s a bit of a spicy, new twist on the old recipe.

The fact that Jurassic World is in theaters now excites me as a writer because it follows a hypothesis about entertainment franchise trends that I’ve had for a while now. My hypothesis is namely that sci-fi movie franchises tend to run in roughly 13 and 23-year cycles. And as a writer, 13 and 23-year cycles make my life a very happy one. Before I explain why, let’s follow my logic on trend timing for a minute. Jurassic World which released in 2015 is a reboot of Jurassic Park which was released in 1993. This dinosaur-ridden pair occurred 22 years apart, but Jurassic World and Jurassic Park III (2001) came just 14 years apart. Jurassic World is a sci-fi action movie that comes just months before another iconic sci-fi action movie is set to hit theaters: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Episode VII comes 10 years after Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) and 15 years after Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). If we back up a bit further with the Star Wars franchise, we see the trend again. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope wowed audiences in 1977, which was 22 years before The Phantom Menace, but Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) occurred only 16 years before The Phantom Menace.

Going even further with my theory, let’s look at Lord of the Rings. In 1978, one really bad attempt to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle-Earth to life occurred in The Lord of the Rings movie. Then in the early 2000s, we see Middle-Earth finally portrayed as it should be in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Then audiences were transported back to Middle-Earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). This trend sees a reboot of the original 1978 film some 23 years later with a related franchise beginning nine years after the first franchise reached its glorious conclusion.

Finally we have the Batman franchise. The original Batman movie came out in 1943 with Batman: The Movie following 23 years later in 1966. Twenty-three years after this came the franchise of the early 1990s that I grew up with: Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), and Batman & Robin (1997). By the time Batman & Robin hit the theaters, the franchise had gone from dark and moody to just plain campy. If ever there needed to be a decent reboot, this franchise was it. Sixteen years after Batman and eight years after Batman & Robin, Batman Begins thundered into theaters with an image makeover so complete that the Bat Mobil was a black tank instead of a car. Following Batman Begins (2005), we saw The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012)—a strong trilogy that excited new fans and old.

So to recap, we see a trend of 22 years and 14 years, 10 years and 15 years, 22 years and 16 years, 23 years and nine years, 23 years, 23 years, 16 years, and eight years between movies and franchises with reboots of box-office hits coming faster than failures. Averaged out we get 13 years between more successful franchise reboots and 23 between less successful franchises.

So why do I care so much about all of this movie trend trivia? I care because these trends offer a massive ray of hope for writers like me. You see, movie genre trends often follow book genre trends. Generally speaking, whatever general types of successful movies are popular now are often the same types of books that were immensely popular about six years ago. Case in point, the movies World War Z and Zombieland both came out in 2013 just six years after the book World War Z hit store shelves. The movies found audiences just as the resurgent trend of zombie stories hit its high point. Now in 2015, we see this zombie-loving trend tapering off.

This becomes very important for genre fiction writers because we can use movie franchise success to help us understand to overall genre trends. Case in point, the last major pirate movie series began with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003 and will likely end with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in 2017. That is a 14-year cycle. Based on that information, I can probably assume that my own pirate-based book Thorn & Thistle has a good chance of selling well this year because we’re still in the middle of a pirate-loving trend. However, I probably shouldn’t stretch the series too long or it might outlive the hype.

I could also expect that launching a major vampire teen book series right now might be a bad idea because we’re still on the downward slope of that trend thanks to the Twilight movie series finishing just three years ago. The first book that inspired the vampire teen craze just hit its ten year anniversary. If I’m smelling the winds right, I think we’ll need another six to eight years before teen vampire books can gain momentum in popular culture again. If this is correct, then we’ll probably see another hot vampire teen movie hit theaters around 2026. Of course there are plenty of other factors to consider in my trend theory, which is why nothing is ever fool-proof. But, even if my theory is way wrong in its timing, knowing that genre trends do repeat with regularity gives me an advantage as a writer.

As an author in the digital age, repeating trends give me a chance that each book I write can have something more than a simple first-run shelf life. Because e-books and Print-on-Demand books don’t go out of print the way regular hardbacks and mass market paperbacks do, repeating genre trends mean that each book might get a second or third shot at glory in the hands of readers. It means that I might not have to be the world’s most formidable marketing genius to make a living at this crazy passion of mine. As long as my body of work is timeless in its appeal and varied in its subgenre material, I have an opportunity to impact multiple generations of people with my writing. That possibility is something to celebrate no matter when a book is published or when its same genre film is produced.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia

P.S. – Don’t forget, Skinshifter, The Dryad’s Sacrifice, and Thorn and Thistle will release on Amazon on September 25th, and on Kobo, Smashwords, Apple, and Barnes & Noble on December 24th. Pre-order purchasing is now available for all three in all places. You can read other excerpts for Skinshifter HERE, The Dryad’s Sacrifice HERE, and Thorn and Thistle HERE.

Also, don’t miss the official Skinshifter Blog Tour starting on September 28! I’ll be stopping by several websites and giving away some awesome prizes to readers! Watch my blog and the news page for more details. Thanks!


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

Of Scarecrows and Skinshifters (Skinshifter Excerpt 6)

Ash_Bloom_4x6ACI cannot believe it’s already September. It feels like just yesterday that the first sprigs of spring were peeking out from beneath winter’s brown blanket. Now fall was right around the corner and I see scarecrows and jack-o’-lanterns in every store window I pass. The weather here in Dallas is just as warm as it was at the end of July, but that too will change in the next few weeks.

In the midst of all of this change, my husband and I have finally begun settling into a normal routine. There are still a few boxes piled in odd places and we have yet to hang all of the pictures on our walls, but everywhere I look I see progress that suggests our small apartment will soon be called home.

Our front entry still houses boxes labeled with the words “Totaled and Burned Items”, but the boxes of undamaged goods that Matthew and I have unpacked have far outnumbered those. The generosity of our friends and family has been unmatched this season of trial and I can’t begin to tell everyone just how grateful we are for your great outpouring of love!

Before I begin today’s special book excerpt, I have to share some words of encouragement from yet another source. This comes from Lisa Brown-Gilbert, a reviewer for BestsellersWorld.com who just finished reading Skinshifter. She writes: “As involved as it is vividly eloquent, Alycia Christine’s Skinshifter…is fueled by engagingly twisted fantasy elements, vivid imagery, appealing characters, rousing adventure and terse storytelling.”

Her full review brought tears of joy and gratitude to my eyes. In honor of that and of its upcoming release, I thought I would share another Skinshifter excerpt with you.

“Lauraisha, stay away from the tunnels and be on your guard!”

“What’s coming?”

Before Katja could answer, the triangular head of the first basel slipped into view. Its head was the size of her chest. Lauraisha screamed as it struck. Katja feinted left out of the path of its attack and swept unsheathed claws at the snake’s right opalescent eye. The creature shrieked as Katja’s middle claw found its mark. She pulled her paw free and blocked the snake’s clumsy lunge with her opposite forearm—dancing away from the greenish-gray head.

She spied the shadows of the second and third snakes out of the corner of her eye. They had reached the tunnel entrances simultaneously. She lunged under the first basel on its blind side just as it reared its head, and she struck at its neck glands with both paws. She felt jarring pain as her paws struck bone and staggered under the snake’s weight as it began to convulse. She laboriously pinned the twitching body against the wall with a small boulder and then jumped back into the fray.

“Lauraisha, they’re most vulnerable if you strike at the spine just behind their heads!”

The human had drawn her forearm-length dagger and stood waiting in a loose stance for one of the two snakes to lunge out of the tunnels. Katja went to Lauraisha, grabbed the torch from her hand, lit the wall sconce behind her, and then threw the torch at the nearest basel. It hit the monster full in the face. The serpent shook and ducked its head, leaving the human open to strike at the base of its skull. Lauraisha seized the opportunity and drove her knife through the bone—the resulting crack was nauseating.

Two serpents now lay dead, but the other two had entered the cave. Katja had engaged the third, but Lauraisha stood vulnerable to the fourth because her knife was still lodged solidly in the second snake’s skull. Katja realized with horror that the human had no weapon, but the werecat could do nothing to help her while she was still fighting this serpent.

“Weave! Dodge! Don’t get bit—”

Katja heard Lauraisha scream just as the werecat sidestepped a ferocious lunge-and-snap. She swiped at the snake’s scaly head—leaving faint gashes along its length—and rolled to her left while trying to see what had happened to her companion. A chill crawled the length of Katja’s spine. Lauraisha was nowhere in sight. The fourth basel had now turned its full attention to Katja and the other snake.

“Lauraisha!”

The serpents’ malevolent hisses were all that answered her.

Skinshifter, The Dryad’s Sacrifice, and Thorn and Thistle will release on Amazon on September 25th, and on Kobo, Smashwords, Apple, and Barnes & Noble on December 24th. Pre-order purchasing is now available for all three in all places. You can read other excerpts for Skinshifter HERE, The Dryad’s Sacrifice HERE, and Thorn and Thistle HERE.

Also, don’t miss the official Skinshifter Blog Tour starting on September 28! I’ll be stopping by several websites and giving away some awesome prizes to readers! Watch my blog and the news page for more details.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!

Alycia


The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with love, art, speculative fiction books, and virtual baked goods for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!

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