Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Icarus Helix Episode 4: "Thief" (Sneak Peek!)

Well, May 2011 is closing out in about half an hour for me. In preparation to herald in June, why not drop a sneak peek of the cover for the piece I'm releasing next month? :)

So without too much preamble, let me introduce you to Mason Schaefer. Can you guess his power...? ;)

IH Episode #4: "Thief"

Monday, May 30, 2011

It's That Hot

You know how I kind of whine a lot about the weather? Like, how we get blasted with snow and my poor car careens off the road while pirouetting down a hill? Or rain 49/56 days? Or wind that blows my dog across the yard while he's trying to do his business?


It seems like Ohio has decided to entirely skip Spring this year. Not only that, but I think we skipped the majority of summer and went straight to the dog days.

I won't try to explain the way I wade while I'm walking, or how high the humidity is (Hint: it rains EVERYDAY!... and then immediately evaporates back into humidity...)

I started keeping tabs with my internal thermometer a few years ago. Today was a record high - a hobojillion degrees! That's quite a few more hobos higher than is understandably comfortable for me. I think I prefer weather in the mid 70's.

My black lab/border collie mutt went swimming for the first time yesterday. Besides doing the best impression of a snorting submarine I've ever seen, it was a lot of fun. All of his toes are webbed and I've been itching to try him out. I'm proud to say he's an excellent swimmer (better than me :P). The death-defying leaps he takes off the shore and into the water are unmatched. He won't (yet) jump from the dock. He has a few height issues. I may or may not have pushed him off the dock once to try and show him there was nothing to worry about. He may or may not have seriously dug his claws in the second time it may or may not have been attempted.

He also did this funny thing where he would bite the lake. When his paddling would splash, he would attack the splashes. But sometimes, he would just... bite the lake! I don't know how to explain it better. I caught him head on a few times when he did this. He would bite down, get a big mouthful, and then it would pour wildly out the sides of his mouth.

He swam directly to me a number of times (I'm like his safety blanket). He was remarkably calm if I put both hands under his chest. He would float without moving. If I took my hands away, he would motorboat away.

I received a truly legendary collection of scratches. I couldn't see his flailing legs under the water and he nicked me few times, pretty good. When I was out where I couldn't touch, and he was motorboating with that weird growl/snort submarine noise, flailing with all four legs and me unable to support him AND laughing... well, I think I almost drowned, but it was totally worth it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat because I haven't laughed that hard in ages! And laughter like that is contagious, so everyone else was laughing also.

Except the dog. He was motorboating.

And that is how we try to cool off on hobojillion degree days.

The End.

P.S: Because it's ridiculously hot (a hobojillion degrees!) and we only have a window AC unit that keeps the one room cool, I'm in here on my fiance's laptop. Sadly, it's not my computer. Or my room. Also, there is no MS suite on this computer, so I can't work on IH! The only good news is that I can still work on one of my other projects to the left, so I'm putting in some time on "Yellow House" tonight. It's not actually called "Yellow House" anymore, but I"m keeping the title hush-hush for now.

The Real End.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wickedly Weathered

I know I've been quiet the past few days - sorry my weblings!

The Midwest (and just about everywhere else, it seems) has been getting hammered by severe weather (and tornadoes!!!!!) a lot. I heard yesterday that it's rained 49 of the last 56 days. That is a lot of rain :(

To reinforce the amount of rain we're getting, when I delivered today, I was driving down a road and thought to myself, "I don't remember there being a lake there..." and then I realized it's a couple acres of cornfields...

I've had to turn my computer on and off a number of times during said severe weather, but only seriously taken refuge in the basement twice.

Needless to say, this has hampered my writing, my INTERNET DIARYING (to avoid the b-word hehe) and my video gaming >.>

Lots of exciting stuff going on for me right now! Work is getting a big upheaval, and in a laid back industry like pizza delivery, that's saying something.

I am also working my patootie off... to give you an idea, I have 7 more IH episodes due to come out this year (140,000 words) AND at least one more novel (60,000 words), so my schedule has been pretty tight.

I started this journey last November and since then have written over 120,000 words... that is mind-boggling...

On the 19th I sent out a call for my last 12 Worlds TrAuSter, but sadly never heard back, so no TrAuSt this week :( I think we've missed more weeks than had on in a row... ah well. It's all for fun anyway, right? :)

So! That means an open call for those interested in being featured *HERE* as a TrAuSter! Not only will you get to speak your piece in either a guest post or interview, but I will add your delightful works to my TrAuSt widget over on the sidebar (over yonder).

I know my good buddy Nick is interested :) So I'll be calling your number soon! (Figuratively of course, I'm not creepin' and have no idea where you live or what your phone number is.)

Please have a safe and fun Memorial day weekend! (I have to work Memorial day!) May you grill to your heart's content and not get too embarrassingly sloshed :P (Eat some Indian corn for me!)


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Balloon Fiasco

I work as a delivery driver for a pizza company. We put a sign outside advertising our special 'store-only' deals for the week/month what have you. Just about every Friday I go downtown and pick up a bunch of balloons for this sign, to help draw attention to it on our busiest days (Friday ~ Sunday).

I know by face, pretty much everyone in the flower/balloon section of the grocery store. They know me - if not by face, then by uniform! They always tie the balloons together in a bunch and have them ready for me.

A few weeks ago, they got a new girl. She didn't know we frequently order and when I got there, the balloons were scattered hither and yon - blown up, just not grouped and tied. They were all handed to me, but as I have no skill points in balloon magic, I have no idea how they tie them into that wrist hoojabber (or basically, a slipknot with 9 strings). I can do slipknots, just not with that many ribbons! So another woman there tied them for me. Great!

Last Friday I went to get balloons. The woman at the counter indicated I should give her my arm and she slipped the balloons onto my wrist. Hooray! Balloons!

As a twenty-six year old delivery driver, you'd think I'd feel a little silly with 9 balloons playing mad games behind my head. But to be honest, I don't mind them. I think part of this has to do with the fact that nobody hates balloons.

Yes, some people might be afraid of them popping, but I've never met anyone who scowled at me because I had a bouncy trouncy fun fun fun balloon. I love balloons! They always make me smile. They often make the people around me smile. Maybe those people are laughing at me. It is very possible I look ridiculous with nine balloons trailing behind me. Maybe they are smiling because -I- am smiling (because I love balloons).


I got into the grocery store parking lot and had my hands in my pockets. The balloons slid up my arm to rest in the crook of my elbow. I was about halfway to my car when I noticed my elbow felt funny. I looked over - just in time to see the balloons fly away into the great beyond.

"Oh noooooooooooo," I wailed. Because what else do you say? To me, one of the saddest sights in the world is a balloon flying away. I have never met a child who was happy their balloons escaped. My inner little girl burst into tears.

I trudged back into the store and over to the flower section.

"It came untied and all the balloons flew away!" I fluttered my hands helplessly at the clerk. Inner child still crying.

She approached me very sternly and said, "You know, that knot isn't for holding the balloons!" Then she went back and filled up more balloons for me.

But I was sort of left to wonder - if that knot isn't for balloons, and you always tie it in that knot, and today ESPECIALLY you put it around my wrist... WHICH ONE OF US IS WRONG?

At least I got new balloons. (YAY!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Cokephant and Other Tales

Something in my dog's tiny brain has wired him to do some pretty outrageous things. For instance, when he gets out of the tub, if you put a towel on the floor he writhes around like an irate water moccasin (a snake), ready to destroy.

Sometimes he'll forget how to run up the basement stairs and set up a mournful howl, the likes of which is only seen on some lower levels of hell.

He also sniffs dandelions until they make him sneeze. EVERY TIME.

But one of the most bizarrely inexplicable things about him, has to be his love of pop containers. Not the cans (though we recently had some success teaching him to carry single cans from one room to the next, more about that if anyone is interested?) As I said, not the cans but the boxes, themselves! It doesn't matter the size, he just loves them. He loves to carry them around, sometimes he worries them, but mostly he just trots around ENTIRELY BLIND to his surroundings because his head is encased in an empty pop box.

So, weblings, without further adieu, I give thee,


In order to take this shot, I had to get him to sit still, which meant five minutes of hearing him blundering through the house while I called for him. He turned left, right, left... crashing into the wall and stalling his progress no less than six times! That is determination! We could learn a thing or too from my outrageous mutt :)

You'll notice he has a Coke container, please, let me explain! I'm a Pepsi-lover, die-hard, at heart. But the fact is, we don't have a lot of money, so when we do splurge for it, we go for whatever is usually the cheapest sale. Thus, the Coke. (Else we would have The Pepsimadillo. Sadly, we have the Cokephant.)

Other Tales
The Pirates of K-Mart

The container from above was tossed from the fridge to make way for the NEW containers. K-Mart had them 3/$11, so I picked those up. As I mentioned, we are not the richest of folk, so we do what we can with what we have... for example, changing our regular dollars into GOLD dollars. They're just more fancy.

With tax, it was around $11.72, so naturally, having only gold dollars at my disposal, I paid with 12 gold dollars. The woman took them and looked at me suspiciously.

"What're these?" she demanded. "Fifty cent pieces?"

I admit to a moment of surprise. "They're gold dollars?" I answered questioningly, as if her ill-founded mistrust had persuaded me that I was in error.

"Twelve of 'em!" she growled.


She punched a few buttons on the register and snarled, "Your change'll be twenty-eight cents!" To be honest, I half expected a "YARRRR!" thrown on the end.

None was forthcoming.

Perhaps I will have to hoist my own Jolly Roger.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm 100 Posts Old!

That's like 2 minutes in internet time!

So that's a monumental milestone, I believe :) In honor of this frivolously grand occasion, I think a give-away is in order!

Here's the rules:
In the comments section, in 100 words (or less) explain why YOU deserve to win!

I'll make 3 picks of my favorite reasons.

Comments must be on THIS post.

You do NOT need to be a follower of the blog, but it is greatly appreciated :) (And you will have to come back in June, to see if you won!)

Please spread the word!

Prizes will be gifted in June, through Amazon's gift system.

Submissions end May 31st, 11:59pm.

Here's the prizes:
3 copies (1 to each winner) of any (current) episode of the Icarus Helix series!

Want to start reading it? Ask for "Cheat"!

Just haven't picked up "Liar" yet? Ask for that!

Already read all the available episodes? Yes, I will award "Thief" (when it releases).

Don't want it for yourself but think someone else might like it? You can gift away your copy!

Here's some links so you can have an idea of the prizes:




So get to crackin' on why YOU think you deserve MY hard work, for Freeeeeeee! Good luck!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

From Left Field

I generally try to make the Thursday after a TrAuSt post lie fallow, so that it has time to properly ferment its rich goodness into the world of web. But I have some exciting news (for me, anyway) that I am dyyyyyying to share. So instead I'll ask you, gentle readers, have you read Edward L. Cote's post? Have you read it? Are you reading it now? Here is a fifth chance, so you can't say I overlooked the matter! :)

So, my exciting news! Coward went live as planned (always a good thing). Smashwords had it up nigh instantly! They have recently quadrupled Meatgrinder's abilities (the specifics being, four Meatgrinders are now running in parallel). Their conversion queue has vanished. VANISHED, I say! I was sixth once and third the next and both converted, as I said, nigh instantly.

Barnes and Noble and Amazon BOTH were quicker than usual on the uptick. So, Coward is now live and has already sold 3 copies! Imagine that! So fast, it does my heart grand.

But, dears, that is not the most exciting of my news! For, last night I received my first (ever!) piece of Fan Mail. Yes, in capitals! A reader directly invested in my story, enough to tell me so! It was a glorious time, and even now the smile lingers upon my lips.

The month is winding down, less than two weeks to go! I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I will say... I have surpassed my sales goal for this month. For this, I am exceptionally pleased! Despite the unending rain in Ohio (seriously, thinking of building an ark), I feel May has been good to me :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Traust Tour #7: Edward L. Cote

Edward L. Cote is joining us today! You should go on and enjoy him now. He's a nice guy who got pushed back by my family crisis and he has good things to say! :)

So Ed, get on with it! :D

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

It's been about a month since we wrapped up work on the Twelve Worlds anthology project and I'm at an important point of my own. I'm publishing my first book, Violet Skies, around the end of May.

The anthology was an interesting project to work on. I had some exposure to things different from what I usually read, and I hope I learned a thing or two. It was really something to see it all develop, especially since a project of that scope and nature was, for most of us, outside our experience. We had to form our processes and rules as we went along. The most important part of it all was meeting and working with the other authors. I have established relationships with colleagues that will last for years to come.

That's looking back a few months. I can also look back as far as twelve years. I had the first tiny seed of Violet Skies in my mind as early as 1999. Over the years it grew, and I would come back to check on it now and again. In 2009, I decided that I would finally get serious about this thing. I would sit down and, as they say, “just do it”. I solidified and codified. I poured over my notes and added to them. I fleshed out the setting and its history. I got to know the characters a little better, and I realized that in their own way, they had always been there.

In 2010, I finished the first draft and started looking for publishers and agents. I figured that I could do some polishing while I waited for them to get back to me. That turned out to be a mistake, for two reasons. First, the book at the time was not nearly ready. It was too short, too rough, and too raw. Second, as I've learned since, Violet Skies is outside the comfort zone of a risk-averse industry.

Yes, Young Adult books do sell very well these days, but I was bucking every trend. Instead of a paranormal romance set in a rainy American city, I have a coming of age tale set in an agrarian city-state ruled by a 600 year old Magus. Instead of vampires and werewolves, I have wizards and swordsmen. Instead of the thousand page tomes, purple prose, unpronounceable names, and ensemble casts common to the fantasy genre, I have novellas, clear prose, simpler names, and a small cast.

I made those choices deliberately, and I am still convinced that they can pay off by giving me access to an untapped market. For every person who has told me all the reasons why they don't read fantasy, there could be ten more who feel the same way. Maybe some of them will give the genre a try when presented with books that do away with many of those obstacles while keeping the essential nature of the genre intact. Lowering that threshold and the level of investment it takes to get into the Violet Skies series could also appeal to teens and busy people of all ages.

However, convincing creatures of habit that I had a point, using only a query letter, proved to be very difficult indeed. I collected enough rejections to see the problems. I even found a few agents who would not accept queries for novellas to begin with. I was a contender for a publishing contract at a small house, but I did not make the cut. I'm pretty sure that the length of the book was the deciding factor.

I was at a difficult crossroads. I knew that I couldn't force the books so far beyond their natural length, and I didn't want to combine them. I considered shelving the project and trying something more traditional, but I didn't have any compelling ideas along those lines at the time. I considered quitting writing altogether. Either way, I couldn't abandon something I'd already had on the back burner for so long. Something important to me. I felt its time had come.

Then, a friend sent me an email with a link to Joe Konrath's blog. I learned that while I was making my own transition to writing professionally, publishing itself was making a remarkable, rapid, and historic transformation into a fundamentally new industry.

It was through that blog and this emerging self-publishing community that I met first Derek J. Canyon and then the other Twelve Worlds authors. Ironic perhaps, that I'd be more alone if I had insisted on the traditional publishing route.

At first, self publishing presented another way, a door opening where others had closed. Now I feel that it's the only way for most writers, especially new and emerging ones. At this point I probably would not take a contract with an agent or publisher even if offered one.

Which brings me to where I am today. I have a story, Iron in Shadow, published in the Twelve Worlds anthology, and I'll have my first book published in a matter of weeks. I know that getting sales and building a fanbase is a long and challenging process, but I also know I can do it. I've had setbacks to be sure. I always will, but I'll get past them and learn what I can.

I want to have the second book out for Christmas, and I might still pull that off. Maybe in a year or two I can make a living at this. I have an opportunity that I did not have even a few years ago. The Twelve Worlds anthology is something that we could not have done even a few years ago, but we came together as peers and produced something very good for a very good cause.

Going back to the big picture, I do see this as a time of opportunity, even as it is also a time of upheaval. I think that as the middle men and gatekeepers recede, readers and authors can come together in ways that we couldn't before. In the coming years we will see changes not only in the economics of publishing, but the dynamics of it as well. As authors we now have control over our own work, and are free to experiment with different material and forms. As readers we are free to decide for ourselves what we want, and we are the arbiters of quality, not some distant gatekeeper. Already we see the resurgence of short stories, and soon serials as well. So maybe the words “fantasy” and “novella” can be used in the same sentence. That can't be the strangest good idea. Eventually someone will surprise us with something we cannot yet foresee.

Publishing has a bright and wide open future. Somewhere in that future is a place for a young girl named Taya Mindaerel.

Edward L. Cote,
Author of Violet Skies

JEM Sez: Somebody surprise us, you say? I have an episodic-novella-length-series, the third of which dropped today... ;) Maybe one day I can be a poster-child for novella-length stories? Wouldn't that be nice :D

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Five More Stars!

I'm making preparations to upload "Coward" today, and to take a break from final edits, I set up the beginning page on Amazon's KDP.

Because I chronically fail at remembering obvious things, I checked Amazon to see how I had listed my name. J. E. Medrick? JE Medrick? J.E. Medrick? Of course when I typed in my name, my list of books popped up.

I noticed "Shackled" got a third review, two days ago. When I went to look, I realized it was a 5-star rating!

Says J. M. Brady (my new best friend):
If a character is what he/she does, then we know quite a bit about the stars of this novel. From birth we see the growth of these characters (brothers) from the inside and out as they both grow into what they must become (on a twisted path no less-an engaging story) . I especially enjoyed the addition of a family physician that brought a deeper understanding of the main characters via "experiments." J.E. Medrick does a great job with her craft of writing this story. I look forward to her next novel.

So I'm just going to do my little happy shuffle, while the dog stares at me, and thank you very much for your kind words :)

And folks, don't forget to stop in tomorrow when Edward L. Cote will be stomping on through with a guest post! (And sorry for the delay from the family emergency, sir!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Destroyer of Pests

First, please stop by Man Eating Bookworm to see my guest post and spread some love!

Two weekends ago we made a mad dash down to South Carolina for an emergency hospital visit. Seeing as how we have a dog and a cat, they had to find homes, as we weren't sure exactly how long we would be in said State.

The cat went to my mom, but alas, a dog is considerably harder to care for. He came with us.

He was remarkably well behaved in the car. We stopped at rest stops during his designated feeding times, so at least that part of his schedule stayed the same. He's crate-trained, and we packed up the crate to bring, also. It's nice because then he always has a safe place (both for him and us) to be. He slept a lot of the ride, got no car sickness (thank goodness!) and mussed up all the windows with his nose.

My dad's dog is an outdoor dog (90% of the time she's outdoors) and as an obvious result was a tail-wagging bag of fleas. We Frontline our dog, which is a medicine they get once a month that puts a sort of poison in their bloodstream so that when fleas and ticks bite, they die. It's not harmful to the dog (unless overdosed).

We didn't bother with it during the winter, as it's not really a flea/tick season. We got our dog last November and bought Frontline for his size (puppy-sized). Unfortunately, our puppy is about 10 months old and over 60lbs, so he's considerably bigger than that dosage warrants. We can't Frontline him again until next week, per dosage orders, because we aren't sure how much a puppy dosage affects a dog his size (except that he still got fleas :P).

Regardless, my dog came home with fleas which, anyone who has seen them crawling all over anything, can attest to... EW. My fiance generally goes to work around 7:30, whereas I go to work about 10:30 (opening driver). About 8~9am, my dog wakes up and starts to whine for morning bathroom time. I usually let him out, then bring him in the bed for cuddles for the last hour or so before I actually get out of bed. You aren't supposed to let the dog sleep in the bed with you at night because they supposedly grow a superiority complex and refuse to obey.

My dog is a giant wuss and obeys me pretty readily, so these short stints in the morning seem to be no problem.

I should also mention - Ajax is half black lab, half border collie. He's loving and adorable, but also does really, really well with a set schedule and knowing where he needs to be (and also tasks. For example, instead of yelling at him when he carries our socks around the house, we taught him to put them in the hamper.)

Because of his fleas, he was banned for morning cuddles because who wants fleas in their bed? Ew.

My fiance bathed him on Saturday (his usual bathing day) but I immediately found live fleas on him again. (Ahem, someone didn't bathe him well enough.) I read the directions very carefully and waited a few days (flea baths contain pesticides, a dangerous possibility for overdosage). Today I scrubbed him down for all get out, until I thought my arms would fall off (as per the directions.) Then I slowly counted to sixty five times (as per five minutes) and rinsed him down.

A lot of flea eggs (EW) and small, live fleas (EW) fell into the water, along with about fifteen large fleas (EW). After drying, I took my dog into my room for inspection.

First, I "Shot" my dog. I pointed my hand, in the shape of a gun, at him and yelled, "BANG!" He rolled onto his back with all four paws in the air. Then I gave him the "Stay!" command. He stayed very still while I picked over him like a monkey. I'm proud to announce I saw no live fleas! Hopefully this will be the end of it and we can Frontline him this weekend and be done with fleas (EW).

Then I gave my dog lots of lovey-scratches and made him "Go to your place!" so he'll lay down and be quiet while I finish writing "Coward"! :)

The End.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Push!

The first draft of "Coward" is due by Monday and I'm making a serious push to finish it. I think I wrote over 4k words today, already. Another 4k tomorrow to hit the goal, provided I don't do anymore tonight.

I think the whole story is exciting, but I'm almost at the climax of the episode. Understandably, this is at/near the end ;)

It's coming along nicely and I'm absolutely thrilled to have this represent my ability. One of my beta readers said, "It really looks like you're hitting your stride. I like "Liar" better than "Cheat" and I like "Coward" better than "Liar"!"

I've color designated "Coward" as purple in my nifty sales chart. Very excited to see a purple bar creeping up the graph :) I think it will fit nicely with the color scheme!

I'm a little frenetic today, as I've poured a massive amount of story out in a short amount of time. The well isn't empty, but it's draining! It will be nice to take that 1-2 day break I give myself after finishing a work :) With the explosion of this ending, I think I'll need it... ;)

Friday, May 13, 2011


I posted this before Blogger exploded. And, as it were, as an addendum to a post already read, so perhaps it was missed.

Mr. Peter over at Man Eating Bookworm gave an excellent review of "Liar"... 5 stars! His review can be read here.

He also reviewed "Cheat" awhile back, giving it 4 stars.

Please consider stopping by his excellent blog to check out his reviews :)

As for the title of this blog, I'd like to give a little insight into myself. I can do that, because this internet diary belongs to me :)

I often write about paranormal, supernatural, crazy and weird situations that my characters find themselves confronting. I feel comfortable in this genre because freaky stuff happens to me all the time.

Examples? Things falling off shelves/moving. Ouija marker moving with no hands on it. The steering wheel feeling like it's been jerked out of my hands (but the car doesn't stop going straight??). Bizarre and nonsensical things. Ghostly things.

I've shared a few of my dreams recently. They are crazy and funny and wild. A lot of my friends know that when I start a sentence with, "I had the craziest dream last night..." they are in for a treat. Heck, I like dreaming them, they're fun.

But sometimes I have these dreams that are so vivid and seemingly random that an image or a phrase sits with me for a long time. Something I just cannot get out of my head. Then, one day, I will find myself in that exact situation. Sometimes it's a week after the dream. Sometimes a month, or years!

Here is an example.

I taught English in Japan for 3 years. For the first seven months I taught in a private English school. Then I moved to the public school system. Around that time I was dating a Japanese man. My public schools were made entirely of wood and brick. White walls, brown floor. Pretty basic stuff.

Then one night I had a dream: I was getting ready for class. I looked around. The floor was covered in green carpet and the walls were painted a muted shade of yellow. On the wall were posters, obviously hand-drawn, with English phrases like weather, countries, et cetera. The right-hand wall was made of windows and had a sliding door to the outside. I was sitting in the only desk in the classroom - the rest of the floor was essentially bare.

The first thing wrong with this image is carpet - there is just no carpet in Japanese schools. Secondly, many of my schools refused to let me make posters, let alone hang them up. Third, all doors leading outside from the schools are attached to hallways, unless they are on the second floor or above. Fourth, if this was an English classroom... where were all the desks? Fifth, I'd been to all my schools on my list (I taught at 4 at that time) and none of them had a classroom even remotely mirroring this image from my dream.

But it stuck with me. That green carpet. Those posters. That door. NO DESKS.

It was so vivid that I told my boyfriend at the time about it. We had a good laugh. "Japanese schools don't have carpet!" he chuckled. "I know!" I laughed. What a crazy dream! Sometimes he would kid me about the green-carpeted room.

A few months later my company announced a position for an emergency "lead" teacher. Said teacher would travel all over the country wherever our teachers needed a quick replacement. Reasons like: illness, quarantine (big swine flu epidemic), contact with family that resulted in quarantine, deportation, arrest, et cetera.

Long story short - I got that job. Toward the end of my ELT reign, my last assignment was in Osaka. I would attend 2 middle schools for part of the year, then 5 elementary schools the other part. It was only supposed to be a short-term position, but unfortunately repeated attempts to fill it were met with failure. I ended up there for about 7 months. So, I ended up in the elementary schools.

About a week after I started in the elementary schools, I was introduced to my classroom at Minami (South) ES. Minami was a large school that fell in student body as the birth rate of Japan had declined. They had a number of empty classrooms. So, they assured me, I'd have my own classroom to do with as I pleased. They had converted an old classroom in the new wing to be an English-only room. Fantastic! Could I hang up posters? Sure!

Two posters later, I was sitting coloring a number of flags with markers, to hang around my "Can you guess which country?" poster. The marker stopped moving.

I was sitting in the only desk in the classroom. As it had been converted for use for "recreational" purposes, no desks were needed. Further, they had carpeted it. The carpet was a deep, calming green. My neck craned slowly back as I surveyed the posters on the far, yellow wall. It turned sideways - the room's wall to the grounds was made of glass. It had a sliding door.

I was exactly where I had dreamed I would be. I furiously drew out my keitai (cellphone) and texted my boyfriend. "I'M IN THE ROOM!!!" When I got out of work, I explained the whole thing to him. We loudly exclaimed, together, about the whole situation.

But, by far, it was not the first time.

I sort of feel like these premonition dreams are like a road map for my life. When I reach them, I feel a little secure - like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Now don't get me wrong - I don't think I'll end up being (the worst) evil sorcerer. Nor will Obama abandon me to the zombies to find Baby Jacob's Ashes. I doubt I will escape a murderer by flying out the window. I'm pretty sure I'm not a minotaur sent by the gods to wreak punishment on mankind.

But a few nights ago, I had one of those dreams. It was that same feeling - that, "Here is a moment of your life. When you reach it, you'll know you're in the right place."

It was a mundane dream. I awoke, bleary-eyed from bed. I stumbled out of our bedroom and into "my" room (computer, bookshelves, futon, MY room). I opened Firefox. I opened KDP. Then I had a moment of clarity.

I had sold 45 copies of one of my works.

In one night.

The previous day it was zero, and today it was 45. That was my dream. I felt a dawning sense of wonder and accomplishment... then I woke up.

Premonitions, anyone?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Charging Forward

Well, I have to say, unit-sales-wise, it's been an exciting month for me thus far... but you'll have to wait until next month for an actual sales update :D

I had a pretty interesting dream last night. I can only remember fragments. I will list them as I remember them:

1. There was a young boy who died and was cremated. His name was Jacob. (They called him Baby Jacob's Ashes.) Somehow his ashes got mixed up with a necromatical fire. Zombies ensued.

2. There was a guy with a crush on me. He was telekinetic. He saved me from some zombies with his flying car. Our conversation went like this:
"Why is your car flying?"
"Did you forget? I'm telekinetic."
"Yes, but you're terrible at it."
"I can hold this car up for three hours!"
At that point the car began to wobble in the air, and I decided I didn't believe him.

3. The zombies were semi-intelligent. They had feelings. They could also be fooled into thinking living people were zombies with careful make-up and groany/shuffling attitudes. But one bite and it was all over.

4. I had to solve a puzzle to find Baby Jacob's ashes. This was one of the clues, "Treehouse and For Hungry Sith and Me... comes next." (The answer to this clue was 3,463+1 so 3,464. Do you get it?)

5. I assembled all but one of the clues. Obama (yes, the president) appeared with four buses. He claimed he could rescue everyone with the buses but, "Damn it, you have to find that last clue!"

6. Obama's bus cavalcade stormed off into the sunset, leaving only me behind. But I solved the puzzles and turned the zombies into dust. They were sad.

The End!

In other news, "Coward" has been pushed to 53%! I'm playing catch-up from the OoTE last Saturday, but hopefully will still be on schedule!

Cheers :)

Oh yeah, please don't forget to check out the Man Eating Bookworm! He left me a great review about "Liar" :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in Town, Feverishly Trying to Get Caught Up

We're back. Long story short: she's recovering with grim prospects. Going to leave it at that.

In _fantastic_ news, "Shackled" sold a copy today, breaking it's almost 50 (fifty!) day no-sale streak. I think I hurt myself initially by pricing it too high out of the gate. It's been languishing, but I'm considering having a sale to get people to try it. Though, since it's out of New Releases, I'd have to find some other way to get the word out. So much to do, so little time...

I'm behind on "Coward" but will make a big push tomorrow and Thursday to get where I want to stand. I should probably call off work tomorrow, but really cannot afford to miss more than the two days I already missed :(

Anyway, home safe and sound. Picking up the cat from mom's tomorrow. Dog came with us and was remarkably well behaved in the 10-hour ride down there and the 14-hour ride back!! Yay, dog!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

OoOTE (Out of Town Emergency)

Family emergency of the not-looking-good-hospital-variety. Going from Ohio to South Carolina ASAP. Not sure when regular updates will resume. TrAuSt Tour cancelled this week (sorry).

Hopefully back in town by Wednesday, playing by ear.


Not Actually an Evil Sorcerer

The beau and I watched The Sorcerer's Apprentice which I blame in large part for the crazy dream I had. It went something like this:

After thirty years spent in absolute darkness, light floods into my world. I am free of the prison that bound me, wicked magicks turned back upon myself. Trapped in a small black box, but now free.

I will rise again as the greatest of evil sorcerers, wreak hell and havoc upon the world. First, I must find a corporeal body. This mist/ash crap isn't working out for me. Really hard to cast magick like this.

After a series of sneaky and vicious bloodlettings, my body is formed. I shall resummon my sorcerer's circle, long since buried beneath the dirt of civilization. Something resembling a frat house squats on my land. There is a party going on in the backyard. Many sacrifices for me to consume, but first I must cast a spell to intoxicate them to my will.

The circle is summoned successfully, rising from the ground with a great exhalation of awe by the watching crowd. I begin to cast my most powerful magicks - I manipulate air and water through clever metal tubes in the circle. It produces a song. The song is magick. The people sway to the tune. It is a great and powerful weaving - a magickal rendition of the All American Rejects.

My magic stutters, dirt still clogs some of the pipes. I halt the music and in a blast clear the pipes. The spell has failed, people are already drifting away.

I look up. Harry Potter stares at me pityingly. "I don't think it's working," he tells me.

Magic has advanced so far in thirty years! Even Voldemort is looking surly, having become a low-class wizard, himself. Furiously, I wrap Harry Potter in black cord.

"That really isn't going to help," he says skeptically.

In the last few moments before I wake, I let out one final cry.

Damn you, Harry Potter. Damn you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

TrAuSt Tour #6 Coral Russell

5 Up High:
JEM: Why did you get into writing/become a writer?

CR: Because I'm such a good student and stayed in school until I got my Masters, I've written a lot of non-fiction. o.~ I worked in education as a teacher, the past five and a half years, and taught, worked on writing projects, maintained a website, and networked about Teaching English as a Second Language. I had always wanted to write fiction, but had no clue where to start. You think it would be the same, but it really isn't. A writer that I like posted some of her favorite how-to writing books on her website and I bought a couple and had this light-bulb moment. Then a resource I had found for my students called BookRix was running a small writing contest. I was too chicken to enter on my own, so I asked my hubby (yes, he lets me call him that) if he would like to team up and write a short story with me. We had a blast and it was a total fluke, but we won the contest! As my friends predicted, I became incorrigible and wanted to write more and see if anyone would be interested in reading my stories.

JEM: Why did you decide to go into Indie Publishing?

CR: When eBooks first came out, I was one of those people that said, "You'll pry my pBooks from my cold, dead hands!" I never imagined that I would be able to enjoy reading without holding an actual paperback. Then I decided to go paperless in my office and at home and reading on my phone, PC, and eventually a Kindle became a natural branch off of that initial decision. Well, because of BookRix, I started to learn how to upload/format books and then when I saw the prices, I had sticker shock! A really good writing friend introduced me to Konrath's blog. There I found out about Indie Authors and their eBooks that were not only reasonably priced, but their stories were just as good as the higher priced eBooks. I knew that was the route I wanted to go with my stories. I've offered my short stories for free on various sites and they've been read 3000+ times in over 30 countries. I'm psyched about that alone!

JEM: Can you give a synopsis of your current WIP (Work In Progress)?

CR: I'm working on my first long fiction story called, Amador Lockdown. I love paranormal stuff in general and when I wrote two short stories to help promote the local ghost tours I wondered, "With all of these paranormal groups and ghost tours going on world-wide, what would happen if we were messing with something that shouldn't be messed with?" I decided to expand on the characters, Hector and Marcos, from the first two short stories and build a series around a haunting in a 130 year old former hotel, The Amador. The group Restore the Amador is trying to renovate the hotel into a local museum, but crazy stuff starts happening and they turn to Hector and Marcos for help. During a lockdown to raise funds for the restoration, things go horribly wrong...

JEM: What is your biggest inspiration as a writer?

CR: I love how I'll see/hear/taste/feel something and it just takes off into this idea. It was that way when I wrote non-fiction, but I would do a ton of research and have no idea where to start or how to organize it and then I would walk away and something would trigger the idea and all the sudden everything was clear about what I needed to do. Fiction is a little different, but I like and am kind of addicted to that "Ah-ha!" moment.

JEM: What is your writing process? (IE: outline, notecards, etc)

CR: I'm open to whatever works. I'm learning a ton, so when I wrote those short stories and people read them and liked them, I was happy. But just because the story is good, doesn't mean the writing is good. Then I learned about editing... and am thrilled with the final versions, but I will hurl if I have to read those stories one. more. time. hehe For the Amador Lockdown I've done an outline and love that because if I feel lost I can look back to the outline and know either where I need to be or what I need to change. Then I got the idea (from a writing contest) to give my characters a journal and have them write their perspective over the arc of the story. Then I break the chapters down and do research about things that will be in that chapter and the story over all (that's the non-fiction writer in me). Then I feel like I can finally start. Since I have the outline, sometimes I'll skip around in the story if I feel inspired to write a particular chapter, rather than go chronologically. I harass writer friends to read my stuff and I also like Critique Circle. I just found a dedicated critique partner who is traditionally published and wanted a beta reader and agreed to critique my stuff. That has been the best experience. Finding other authors who are willing to work with a newb, shows how supportive the writing community really is.

12 Worlds Special Feature:

JEM: Why did you decide to contribute to Twelve Worlds?

CR: I saw Derek do a shout out for authors and at first I contacted him and said I would help support the project because I didn't have a short story that fit the length requirement. He said that was okay and he'd use it as a 'bonus story' and I think asked others in the project if that was okay. I wasn't the only one who was included as part of the bonus stories. Then it just snowballed and became this great experience. We had, what, twelve authors? He started a forum and outlined what needed to be done and everyone was just there and contributing time and energy. My respect to Derek for thinking up the project and everyone who contributed. I feel humbled and honored that I got to be a part of it.

JEM: Can you tell us anything about the story you contributed to Twelve Worlds? Also, I was one of your editors and I felt like a jerk with your first submission. Forgive me? :)

CR: YOU'RE the ONE?! OMG! *unhooks her microphone, tosses it on the ground, and stomps off like a diva* hehehe Having that story critiqued was the best thing because it was the same thing that my writing friend was saying, "This is a good story, but it needs a lot of work." I knew I couldn't get it ready in time for publication. And I'm a newb fiction writer and I didn't want to embarrass myself! So what does any good writer do? WRITE! My stepson became obsessed with solving the Rubik's Cube. He got so good he could solve it in two minutes. I was his official scrambler. I told him, "I gotta come up with a short story for this anthology or just back out." He said, "You should write a story about the Rubik's Cube." I rolled my eyes thinking, seriously, that's the best you got... But the idea stuck and became a challenge - how can I incorporate this into a story and have it be the least bit interesting? So I challenge you, dear blog readers, to buy Twelve Worlds, read The Cube and give me your opinion! :-)

JEM: Any other thoughts on Twelve Worlds?

CR: That was an incredible experience for me as a writer. I still can't believe I got the chance to participate. A group of writers came together, wrote an anthology for charity, and published it. All in about 4 months. The profits (I think for the month of April was around $100) goes to the charity Reading is Fundamental. Buy the book, spread the word, do some good! :-)

5 Down Low:

JEM: If you could give advice to one super-villain that would make them WIN their fight against a particular superhero, would you do it, what would you say, and why would you help them?

CR: Superheros support chaos. They want people to have their freedom and that just makes a mess of things. You can finally bring ORDER to chaos. Do it! Do it for the world! It needs order!!

JEM: Do you have/want any brothers or sisters?

CR: *looks around* Is there a secret option on your blog to adopt one? I have two brothers. I never had a sister. I have sisters-in-law, but that's not the same. You want to be my sister? I'd be a pain-in-the-bahooty, but totally worth it! *big grin*

JEM: If you were a woodchuck, how much wood would you chuck?

CR: Not much, I'm kinda lazy.

JEM: What was your favorite TV show as a kid and why?

CR: BJ AND THE BEAR! That was the best. show. evah! Greg Evigan was the cutest man alive! He rode around in a semi-truck with a monkey and saved the USA! Oppsy, I just dated myself.

JEM: What is one thing on your bucket list? (Bucket list = things to do before you kick the bucket.)

CR: In all seriousness, I have done a whole lot of what I want, so if something horrible and unforeseen where to happen, I'd be OK. Well, I'd miss my family of course. So my bucket list is pretty short and the one thing I'd pick would be... this Mediterranean cruise that I planned to go on last year, but it didn't work out, so that's still on my to do list. :-)

Author Freetime:
JEM: Any closing statements? :)

CR: I (heart) you! :-)
(JEM sez: Sorry coral, I had to take out the heart picture because the Blogger formatter hated it and wouldn't let it show :()

Contact Info:
Please visit Coral Russell at her blog!

Thanks for stopping by Coral, I really enjoyed some of your answers :) Sorry again for being an editor jerk :P Good luck making it to your cruise!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Behind... to Catch Up! (Bonus Material: Fun Chart!)

For some reason, when April was nearing a close I thought to myself, "Coward is due to publish by May 18th. I therefore have at least twenty days to finish writing it."

Then, in a conversation the other day, someone mentioned my progress on "Coward". I said, "Oh yeah, it needs to be completely ready by the 16th. I'm way ahead. I have 14 days to write... 16k words. Er... maybe I'm not as ahead as I thought..."

So, I've been working hard to get it ready! As a consequence, I sent out the TrAuSt questions for tomorrow late, so I will probably post it Thursday this week. Please stop back to learn a little bit more about Coral Russell!

B&N switched over to May sales today, so I think it's safe to say I can count all my sales for April from them on no hands (Read: ZERO).

I saw a slump in sales in April. By slump, I mean I had 9 sales in March and 6 in April. April was 150% of my first month's (February) sales (4), but 66.6% of my March sales (9). I missed my target sales (20) by a whopping 70%...

HOWEVER. Much to my incredibly voluble and excited surprise, the first three days of May have already equaled my April sales... I attribute this in large part to the fact that "Cheat" (the first episode of the IH series) is beginning to show up in the "Customers also bought" portion of Amazon.

I won't lie, I'm already immensely relieved and grateful to have met last months sales in three days. It takes a lot of negative pressure off me for this month. If I can't surpass, I want to maintain! But, I can't very well say it's fine after only three days... so I'm (almost arbitrarily) setting my goal for this month at 200% of last month (12).

Here's what I'm extrapolating my data from:

One really positive thing I can say is that at least 3 people picked up "Liar"! Hopefully that means they read "Cheat" and wanted to know the next little bit. If that's true than of the 8 copies of "Cheat" that sold, I saw a 37.5% conversion to continue my series. (Of course, that's assuming they read "Cheat" first and didn't just pick up the one they wanted because they are supposed to be stand-alone.)

So, I'm still poking around in the low numbers, haven't broken 10 sales/month yet, but I'm hoping to have good news to report next month.

FYI: ALL of my sales, save for 3 copies of "Shackled" and 1 of "Cheat" were sold through Amazon.

Based on my exhausting research, authors tend to sell better after they have 3~6 titles available. I just broke 3, and my works are starting to show up in the "also bought" feature. Here's to a good May! (We deserve some of those May flowers in Ohio... it rained all but 8 days in April!)


Update: New header! If you didn't notice :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Icarus Helix Episode 3: "Coward" (Sneak Peek!)

So! "Liar" released last month, but we're in May now! May's Icarus Helix release is titled "Coward" and follows the story of David West.

"Cheat"got us into this world. We met Ian Reynolds, a telekinetic football player. "Liar"expanded our view. Ellen Masters guided us through some friendship drama, some of that irritable boy craziness.

"Coward" is darker. David is a freshman - one that gets bullied. His parents are workaholics, leaving him alone with his problems and anger. He's too timid to take what he wants... but what happens when he develops a strange ability, suddenly putting him at the top of the food chain?

"Coward" drops May 18th. Spread the word! (Please!) :)