I’m about to run a giveaway for my newsletter subscribers on Wednesday! All subscribers will have access to a raffle copter link, where you can enter to win a PDF egalley (works on Kindle) of WHEN PLANETS FALL, a signed bookmark (I’ll even personalize it!), and 10 bags of custom-made cinnamon vanilla rooibos tea!
Giveaway winner is Jennifer H.! (I’ll contact you via FB)
Today I get to reveal the WHEN PLANETS FALL cover!! *Screams, flails, panics, ect.* And since I decided to blog along with Ink Ripples blog themes (thanks Katie, Kai, and Mary for letting me join!), and the January theme is book covers… the stars must’ve aligned for a giveaway!!
Guys. I am so excited. (all you newsletter subscribers have already seen this ;) )
Okay.. HERE IT IS
Isn’t it gorgeous!!??? I’m freaking out. Look at the hints of green, the asteroid, the black wing, the hint of stars, the planet!!! Ugh.
I’m so happy and proud and there were definite tears when I opened my inbox. I’m going to print it in high-res, sign it, and hang it on my wall above my bookshelves.
So, what’s so important about covers? Why get so excited about it? (besides suddenly having a face to your book).
Creativity is like the Amish starter bread you got while in school. You have an idea loaf, add to it, eat it, then pass it on for somebody else to make something new from it. Then they pass it on and the cycle continues. That’s why I didn’t even consider trying to make my own cover (even if I self-pubbed, I would’ve hired out). I want to share my loaf with as many people I can get and continue the cycle of creativity in every way possible.
Which is why I loved loved loved having somebody else create a cover for me. I really wanted to see what type of loaf the artist came up with. And now that I’ve seen it, my own loaf has gotten bigger, and I have new ideas.
So, to celebrate my cover and to continue the cycle of creativity, I want to do a giveaway. You can win the handwritten opening lines of WHEN PLANETS FALL on a card created by a Soceity6 artist! (see how we are continuing the cycle there?)
Here are the 3 cards:
So, how to be one of the 3 winners who gets one of these cards and supports an artist:
Hope you all had a great time with your loved ones over the weekend!
WHEN PLANETS FALL releases next year! *squeal* And next year is only about two weeks away. *double squeal* I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to reach the end of December before. Well, 2016 was a special occasion. This year sucked in most areas, so I think we are all ready to flip the calendar to January.
And a new calendar year = GOAL TIME.
I honestly hate goals. My body never behaves, life sends curve-balls in the form of tornadoes, and my goals change as time ticks on. I’m never able to check everything off. And yet, I am majorly goal orientated. In college, I would literally have to tell myself “Put this down. Talking to your roommate is good.” I blame this gene on my mother.
First, let me list some of the bigger tornadoes we dealt with. (That way I feel even better about myself when I look at these goals):
~We adopted a puppy. Who turned out to have more behavioral issues than expected.
~Setback, setback, setback, in getting our yard fixed to keep our basement from flooding again. And then our basement foundation cracked.
~I got sent to a migraine clinic for a month
~clinic = had to stop using narcotics for pain. Which suuuuuuuuuuuuucked.
~Hardcore depression from the clinic lasted about 2 months (I easily lost over 3 months thanks to this)
~DGH quit and switched jobs into a totally different field (which also affected where we attend church)
Woah. Okay, now I’ll feel better about myself when looking at my goals. Ha.
Let’s face the truth together, shall we?
Here’s what I listed (and what I actually did): (sorry it’s so long…)
~find a new work rhythm that works with migraines (since creativity and migraines and puppy work best with rhythm)
Still working on this. Every month is different. Every stage of evey project is different. The longest I’ve been able to stick with a rhythm is two weeks. And this isn’t due to lack of willpower. I am a willpower machine. I’m honestly concerned that I may never find a great rhythm for myself.
Maybe I can reshape this goal for 2017?
~continue keeping track of what I do for writing, but start keeping track of other creative things I do each day
I did this for one month. Oops. But in July I started using a daily planner to keep track of what I do hour-to-hour. I loved that because I can really see patterns in migraine pain or what triggers what. I didn’t write down hour-to-hour every day, but I’m still currently using the planner! Win for me.
~sign up for 1 art class or workshop
Holy crap! I did this! I didn’t realize I actually did this! And I did it twice! I participated in a one-day workshop in July on using metallic paint. And then a 3-day workshop in August doing watercolor portraiture.
And here I was beating myself up for not reaching this goal.
~relearn photoshop (my new version swapped everything around :/ )
Yeah. Ha. Didn’t happen. Though I did refresh myself on the most-important-topics needed for whatever my current project was. So half-win?
~rough draft for WJF (actually did that last week! Amazing.)
I’ve done even more work on it. I’m definitely in the editing stage. And my editor is interested in it!
~bring WPF 2 up tp line edits (maybe)
Nope. But after edits on WHEN PLANETS FALL, I completely re-outlined the rest of the series and did some major thinking for book 2.
~finish TPT, big pic edits, everything (by August)
By the end of August, I’d done big pic edits and reached out to an indie editor to help give feedback and take some of the work off me. I should be looking at another round of TPT in the spring. Didn’t expect to have reached this one so specifically!
Considering our tornadoes, I’m really impressed with myself. I totally thought I would bottom out completely on my goals. Turns out I made most of them! Who knew?
The moral I learned–making adjusted goals works for me. And when tornadoes come, it’s okay. Since I’ve adjusted, I can still manage to do what I planned. And I should STOP whenever I feel like beating myself up. Because I’m probably doing it for no good reason.
This is an entry from my journal. It’s unedited, as a way for me to wrestle with my own pain through a written form of prayer. I decided to share this wrestling as a “Christmas post” because we normally think of Christmas as a happy time. And it is.
But I also see Christmas as a time for pain. This is the day Christ came to suffer. And because of this I can get through each day.
So, warning: this is not a nice post. But it is an honest one.
The garden is a boneyard. Picked over skeletons and concrete for miles. Dark clouds, the omnious type that speak of destruction, fill the sky. In the middle of this contrete jungle is him.
His back is flayed, flesh hanging to expose muscle. The thorns make his skin a crown of ribbons. Purple, saffron yellow, and indigo bruises cover is face. His wrists are torn and the gaping wound at his side pours water and scarlet.
“Is it not enough?” His voice barely registers above a whisper. His ribs move when he speaks.
“No,” I say. I tightened my grip on the whip. It, too, is crusted with blood. “I need you to feel what I feel,” I say. “I don’t need you to have your own pain. I need you to have my pain.” I raise the whip.
He never breaks my gaze. And gives a tiny nod.
I bring the whip down, aiming for his temples.
His scream is beautiful.
It sounds so much like all the ones I want to scream, all the ones I silence because I don’t want them to be heard. I bring the whip down again, pain for pain. I cry as I match each throb, match each spike, match each brain-numbing blow. “How is this not torture, what you let me go through.” I drop the whip and punch him. My knuckles split and I wipe the blood onto my sweatshirt. I say. I land another punch. Another. Until his eye is gone.
I fall to my knees. My jeans are soaked in his blood, and my muscles ache, and I still hurt. The pain is still in my brain and it won’t go away. It won’t go away. It never goes away. My tears taste salty and metallic and are thick like oil.
He lays there, face too swollen to blink. Continuing to hold my gaze.
It only fuels the fire, fuels the pain. I yell at his body. “Why? Why?”
The only noise are the skeletons clattering in the wind.
His silence feels like nails inside. I shriek, launching to my feet. “Say something.” I stand and kick him and a rib snaps. I do it again. Another bone breaks under my boot, but it feels good. Another kick. Another another until his skull is as beat up as mine and his brain matter leaks onto the concrete. “What is the point of you.” My jaw is so locked tight my voice hisses.
I look down and I’ve become a snake. My thick green body curls and my scales rub in the blood. “Whatssss the point of you?” My tongue flicks. “Whatssss the point?”
Only now does he cry. Each tear drop restores a bit of his flesh. His hands become hands again. His ribs knit and heal to form a chest and his eye regenerates and takes on a rich brown color.
My breathing heaves. I hate how he’s healing. I hate how he won’t stay down. I need him to stay down.
He can lift his arms now. “Come here,” he says.
I twist and my serpent’s body morphs into child’s legs. I toddle to him through the gore. He reaches out and pulls me close until even my hair is bloodied and smells copper.
“It’s okay,” he says.
We cry together until both of us are whole enough to do it all over again.
The letter closes with a threat that Amazon may close the author’s publishing account “if the problem continues.”
Note how vague this is. What’s missing is any explanation of what the author might have done that’s wrong.
Obviously, an author who gets an email like this is going to have a stressful day. Most authors are honest and can’t imagine how they might have been manipulating reviews. And when they ask Amazon what they’ve done wrong, they get the unhelpful response that they’ve violated the terms of service.
It’s very hard to know why this is happening. The information I’m seeing is confusing and incomplete.
My read on the situation is the following (and this is a guess, because it’s impossible to know): Amazon knows that some authors are buying fake reviews. This has been an ongoing problem, and it’s serious. Fake reviews damage the credibility of all reviews. Amazon is a big corporation with a lot to lose when their review system loses credibility. So they set up a system to look for red flags and send warning emails to authors that might be cheating. It’s not clear if this system is fully automated, or whether there are humans involved. It appears that the system is wired a bit too tight right now—it’s sending out warnings to honest authors.
Red Flags For Reviews
I’ve read through Amazon’s guidelines for reviewers and for authors. Here are some of the most common issues to be wary of, because they’re red flags for Amazon. Some of these are obviously dishonest. Others merely violate Amazon’s Terms of Service.
A fake teen artist with a communication disorder in France? Um. Yeah. I’m interested. Meet Rosemary from The French Impressionist by Rebecca Bischoff. Check out the blurb and excerpt below!
Rosemary is fifteen and gloriously free, on her own for the very first time. Part of an exchange program for aspiring artists, she arrives in sunny southern France with a single goal: she doesn’t plan to leave, ever. She wants a new life, a new family, and a new identity. But her situation, crafted from lies big and small, is precarious.
Desperate to escape haunting images from her past and a stage one helicopter parent, Rosemary struggles to hide her lack of artistic talent and a communication disorder that has tormented her all her life. She believes her dream of a new start will come true, until she unwittingly finds herself enveloped in a decades-old mystery that threatens to ruin her only chance for success. Determined to stay, Rosemary must choose whether or not she’ll tell the biggest lie of all, even if it means destroying the life of someone she cares about.
Dramatic, heartwarming, and full of teenage angst, The French Impressionist perfectly captures the struggle of those who feel they have no voice, and also shows the courage it takes to speak up and show the world who we really are.
I lift a carnation pink dress to my face and an even stronger whiff of the perfume I smelled on the bundle of letters drifts into my nose. And then something falls and lands with a soft “plop” at the bottom of the wardrobe. I reach down through a rainbow of fabric and find another bundle of letters tied with green ribbon.
Gavin isn’t looking. He’s moved away and is staring around at Marguerite’s bedroom like he’s looking at a museum display. I stick the letters into my pocket and shove the wardrobe doors shut. I have to force them closed with my shoulder. I don’t succeed until Gavin joins me and helps.
“We better go now,” he says. “They’ll miss us if we don’t hurry.” I don’t argue this, and we move into the next room. Gavin pauses beside a tall, narrow bookcase, eyeing it with an approving glance. “This place is so cool. Maybe we can come back tomorrow.”
“No,” I blurt, glaring at him. Looking into this guy’s strange, dark eyes ringed with pale lashes, anger sparks inside me and flares to life. “No way.” Gavin takes a step closer. I take a step back, nearly tripping over books and boxes on the floor.
“Why not? Is it because you don’t like me? Or,” he adds, lifting something in his hand. “Is it because you don’t want anyone else to know you’ve been taking things?” He’s holding another bundle of letters. Marguerite’s letters.
He shouldn’t have them. They’re mine.
I try to grab them. He holds on. My fingers close over his hand, the hand that holds the letters. We’re standing too close. “Why do you play these games with me?” he asks in a soft voice.
“What games?” I whisper.
His head leans in. I don’t stop him. I can’t find my feet. I can’t breathe.
I. Am. Kissing. A. Boy.
A tiny part of my brain wants to laugh in triumph. Jada dared me to kiss a boy on my trip to France. But then reality snaps back into place. Why am I doing this?
For one, two horrified seconds, I’m frozen, feeling Gavin’s lips, hearing him inhale, smelling the bubblegum on his breath, his flowery hair gel, feeling one hand move up my arm, the other still clasped in mine.
But I don’t like him! What am I doing?
In a single unconscious movement, I place both hands onto Gavin’s chest and shove, hard. He flies back and lands on his butt. Before he can react, I turn to go but stumble and grab the bookcase for support.
It trembles and moves away from the wall. It falls in slow motion, each second an eternity, but finally hits to the floor with a tremendous crash that reverberates through the apartment. Books scatter and explode and brittle pages fly, swirling like giant snowflakes in an indoor blizzard.
Rebecca Bischoff currently resides in Idaho with her family and works as a speech-language pathologist. She loves helping others, especially kids and teenagers, discover their own unique voices and learn to share who they are with the world. When she isn’t writing, she loves to read, spend time with her kids, and make awkward attempts to learn foreign languages. She is drawn to all things both French and Italian, used bookstores, and anything made out of chocolate.
I’m over at Carly’s View today answering interview questions! (Carly is a fellow YA author and publishes with the house WHEN PLANETS FALL is being published by.)
Here’s a peek at the interview:
What made you decide to become a writer?
Couple different reasons! As I grew up, stories became my way of processing my teenage angst. If I ever had a problem, I’d always write and use the characters to work to a solution. It was basically free therapy. Ha. I knew writing would always be part of my life because of this.
I went to college for writing, then only ended up quitting my job due to a neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. You can only watch so many episodes of Vampire Diaries in a row, so I committed to actually putting my degree to use. A couple books later, here I am!
Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
Gosh. Tough question. I am a Sarah J. Maas devotee. Everything she writes is beautiful. I also love Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch series. The world building and characters…Lindsay Buroker—her characters never take the easy way out. Marissa Meyer is a fav. And I always buy everything from Rick Riordan and Stuart Gibbs too. The humor! The adventure!
If you could be any character in any book, who would it be and why?
Every January I begin my countdown to the last 1/4th of the year. Despite crunching leaves and crackling ice and hot chocolate, easily my favorite part of the last part of the year is the reading weather. The atmosphere makes me want to curl up with candles and blankets and read. That being said, I thought it would be fun to travel to some of my favorite reading places:
1. This is the Wade Center in Chicago. While I ran/plodded regularly, I would always always always stop and sit on the bench in front of the center. I’m not sure if it’s still there, but a trellis/border/thing grew around the bench shrowding it with flowers during the spring. Inside the center contains the desk of CS Lewis and Tolkien and the wardrobe that inspired the Narnia series. I swear I could feel the creativity flow from the bricks.
2. This technically isn’t a “spot”, but still one of my favorites. I love to listen to an audiobook in the car while driving through the mountains. Especially when the aspens have turned gold and the light is shining down and the book pace is picking up. Gah! DGH and I have been listening to the Harry Potter and Miss Peregrin series this way.
3. I grew up in the foothills of California. I loved grabbing yogurt and settling in on our porch to watch the sun rise above the mountains with a good book. The roof stretched out so I could read there in the rain, too. Sometimes, early autumn days, I’d sit on our swing set and read to a rhythm.
4. I found another quiet spot along the Platte River in Colorado. There’s so many nooks and crannies to hide away in. You need to read there on a cooler day so the sun doesn’t cook ya, but it’s nice if you can find a spot close to the water.
5. Right now, I’m in love with reading in my library. I won’t show an actual picture because it’s of, you know, my house. But there’s a maple out front that turns fire red. Granted, all the red’s fallen off, but I still like the pattern of the branches. I’ll throw open the windows and sit with a massive cup of tea and furry blanket. My pups will sleep at my feet and my heart goes all goopy with warmth. I won’t move until the book is finished.