If you liked … book matchup giveaway!

Today I’m participating in a really unique giveaway! The idea is that if you liked THIS book, you may also like THAT book. So, without further ado …

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If you liked Malevolent, you might also like Beggar Magic!

Summary:

In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the Strains, and the Common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic.

With the help of the Strains, Common teen Leilani rescues and befriends a gifted Highmost girl, Zebedy. The girls’ friendship opens Leilani’s eyes to the world of the Highmost. She’s intrigued by Zeb’s close relationship with the Strains, and longs to know them as she does. Zeb, in turn, comes to depend on Leilani’s strength and intelligence, making them an inseparable team, ready to take on anything with the Strains at their back.

As their unlikely friendship strengthens and endures, Zeb draws Leilani further into the Highmosts’ intrigues. Beneath the polished, academic facade of the Highmost manors lurks a threat to the Strains. An unknown force consumes their music, leaving only heart-rending silence behind.

Leilani and Zeb will do anything to save their beloved Strains, but as the silence grows, they face danger their previously sheltered lives could never prepare them for. Whoever is behind the death of the Strains is willing to kill to keep their secret safe. To preserve the Strains, the girls may have to sacrifice their friendship, or even their lives.

  • both have action, romance, and magic.
  • both have unique and interesting magical systems.
  • both have feisty, determined female protagonists.
  • both are clean, entertaining reads for the teen girl in your life.
  • both provide you with an on page couple you can root for!

Heidi is hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway
//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.json her blog for the book. Hop over for your chance to win! Or, if you’re too impatient, here’s the Amazon link!

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My spoiler-free impressions of Jurassic World

I’m not sure how I’m going to talk about this movie without giving spoilers, because there’s so many great “oh crap” and “big reveal” moments.

(Oddly enough, my four-year-old called the biggest one just by looking at the Indominus Rex. And no, I can’t share because that would be spoilers.)

First impression: GREAT summer popcorn movie. I giggled crazily through the whole thing. At the beginning, I named everybody except the main characters “dino chow”, and my prediction came true, except for one guy, who survived when I didn’t expect it. It was nice to see somebody survive one of these movies. Also, any time a bunch of faceless soldiers suit up to go fight the Indominus, they might as well be putting on red shirts, because they’re all snacks.

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Hello, lunch!
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Blue raptor, raptor blue. You know, there’s a reason people train DOGS instead of RAPTORS.
Great dinosaur science museum. I want to totally go there and touch all the displays.
Great dinosaur science museum. I want to totally go there and touch all the displays.
Just having a ball! You know, as soon as you saw this in the trailer, that some dinosaur would play soccer with this thing.
Just having a ball! You know, as soon as you saw this in the trailer, that some dinosaur would play soccer with this thing.
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Eat your heart out, Sea World.
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Here, Rexy Rexy Rexy. Also, note the tank top. All heroines in Jurassic movies are required to wear tank tops under their other clothes.

There was a fun subplot with a guy who wanted to weaponize the raptors and release them against enemy armies, especially in jungley settings. It was an interesting idea, and they try it out in the movie. They forgot that raptors are manufactured with the desire to eat every human being on the face of the earth. In fact, ALL dinosaurs at Jurassic World desire to eat all humans.

Except, for some reason, the herbivores, which never threaten to impale anybody on their horns, or whap an inquisitive tourist with a long tail.
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Which, judging by the stories of the mokele-mbembe sauropod in the Congo, (which are fiercely territorial and will attack boats), is just unrealistic.

Then there’s the big ticket item: the Indominus Rex, or the D-Rex (which should really be called the iRex, but nobody’s made that joke yet).

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This sucker has spent its life raised alone in a pen with no knowledge of the outside world. Yet it somehow is able to speak the language of every other dinosaur in the movie. (Maybe dinosaurs have a common roar-growl-snarl language?) People have laughed about how often in the movie dinosaurs stop and talk to each other. I thought it was awesome. Made them seem more like real animals.

It’s definitely a movie to see several times, just to enjoy the eye candy. And Chris Pratt’s character delivers a satisfying number of snarky one-liners. So go see this and prepare to be entertained.

Sketch: Monolophosaurus

Everybody knows the dilophosaurus, the little spitter dinosaur from the first Jurassic Park with his fancy headware.

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Did you know that there’s a MONO-lophosaurus? (Mono … di … you can tell they’re named for their crest numbers.) These guys have only one crest, which makes them look like they have a huge snout. I had to draw some, just for the fun of it.

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I’d like to color them, too, eventually. I love the weird, less common dinosaurs!

Nine years!

Today’s our anniversary, and my hubby and I have been married nine years. He was laughing that we now have been married longer than we knew each other before we were married (which was eight years).

When people say to marry your best friend, they’re not kidding. Ryan’s always simply been my friend. Lately we’ve been playing a Minecraft modpack called Hubris (the world is tainted! Use magic to fix it!) and having an absolute blast. Last night we watched Guardians of the Galaxy, which was major for us, because we haven’t watched a movie together since the last season of Doctor Who ended.

We’re also kind of behind on movies, as you probably guessed. 😀

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I was hanging out with my eight-year-old son, and wondering where all these kids came from, anyway. I know I was there when they were all born, it’s just that that gets kind of distant when you’re all discussing the biology of ants, or cleaning viruses off a kid’s computer.

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I wouldn’t change any of this for the world.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go check the ribs and cook the corn on the cob. 🙂

June New Release Book Hop

Today I’m participating in the June New Release Book Hop!

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This came along at just the right time, since Malevolent just launched on Friday. As of yet, I don’t have the paperback completely made yet, but I can definitely offer an ebook! Here’s the cover and summary:

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Young adult contemporary fantasy: Libby is a high school senior who should be preparing for graduation. Instead, she’s been bedridden for six months with valley fever, stuck on her father’s farm in California’s central valley.

When the beekeepers arrive in February, bringing their bees to pollinate the almond crop, one of them looks like a vampire, acts like a vampire, says his name is Malevolent, and tries to murder Libby’s lousy boyfriend. Yet he offers her honey that dramatically improves her illness, and his bees sing words that she can understand.

Mal took up beekeeping in order to preserve the last remnants of his humanity. What started as a simple trip to California quickly turns into something far more complicated, as he meets a lovely girl who is deathly ill, infected by Mal’s own brother. Feeling guilty and responsible, Mal sets out to heal her with his precious, magic-infused honey, and with each passing day, comes closer to breaking his personal creed:

Befriend Many, Serve Some, Trust Few, Love None.

Once healed, Libby has the strength to break up with her boyfriend–touching off a war between Mal and his brother. This escalates into a realm of awful magic Libby has never dreamed of, where she is both pawn and prize in the battle against a Necromancer. In the end, Libby must face her growing feelings for Mal, and decide whether to destroy him–or rescue him from his soulless existence.

There’s no sex and very little swearing. The characters are Christians, which makes things very interesting when one of them is a monster, too.

Just comment and tell me that you’re interested, and whether you’d like epub (for android devices), MOBI (for kindle apps or devices) or PDF. I’ll pick a winner on June 30th. 🙂

Almonds, bees, and monsters–writing what you know

Writing instructors always say “write what you know”. I’ve always taken that to mean “write what you’ve felt or experienced in some way”. For instance, I’ve never been mauled by an animal, but I’ve been pecked by chickens, bitten by dogs, and scratched bloody by an iguana. Extrapolating from that is pretty easy.

But I wanted to go out on a limb and write something completely different from my Spacetime books. I grew up in California’s central valley, and spent many years of my childhood climbing/playing in a treehouse built in an almond tree in our back yard. I watched it bloom in the spring, picked almonds off it in the fall, and watched it sleep in the winter.

Also, one of my earliest memories was of my parents’ beehive. I must have only been two or three, and I got the bright idea to take a stick and see how far I could poke it into the beehive. A bee stung me right between the eyes.

Another memory is of watching my mom and dad harvest the honey. They had a centrifuge that to me looked as big as a garbage can. It filled the middle of our tiny kitchen. My parents were so delighted with the honey and the comb, and we had honeycomb in our freezer for months afterward, that it remains a very positive experience in my memory.

But what to write in a setting like this?

I wanted to write a romance, and I wanted there to be a monster. But I don’t like vampires, and I’ve done werewolves in other places. Also, every other creature has been done–I’m talking elves, fairies, angels, demons, every kind of animal shifter, witches, even Cthulhu has featured in a paranormal romance. I wish I were kidding about that last one.

Diana Wynne Jones says to look at what everyone else is writing, take that idea, rotate it 90 degrees, and write that. So I tried to do that by using a monster that is always bad. Always. I searched Amazon over and over, and in the few instances where this monster did pop up, they’re always pure evil. It was a challenge to take it and develop it into a sympathetic character whom you can root for, and even see working in a romance.

Basically, I wrote that I knew–my childhood environment, my fascination with beekeeping, and an unusual monster who is never portrayed as a hero–and out came Malevolent.

malevolent-cover3

Libby is a high school senior who should be preparing for graduation. Instead, she’s been bedridden for six months with valley fever, stuck on her father’s farm in California’s central valley.

When the beekeepers arrive in February, bringing their bees to pollinate the almond crop, one of them looks like a vampire, acts like a vampire, says his name is Malevolent, and tries to murder Libby’s lousy boyfriend. Yet he offers her honey that dramatically improves her illness, and his bees sing words that she can understand.

Mal took up beekeeping in order to preserve the last remnants of his humanity. What started as a simple trip to California quickly turns into something far more complicated, as he meets a lovely girl who is deathly ill, infected by Mal’s own brother. Feeling guilty and responsible, Mal sets out to heal her with his precious, magic-infused honey, and with each passing day, comes closer to breaking his personal creed:

Befriend Many, Serve Some, Trust Few, Love None.

Once healed, Libby has the strength to break up with her boyfriend–touching off a war between Mal and his brother. This escalates into a realm of awful magic Libby has never dreamed of, where she is both pawn and prize in the battle against a Necromancer. In the end, Libby must face her growing feelings for Mal, and decide whether to destroy him–or rescue him from his soulless existence.

Available on Amazon

It was fun to “write what I knew”. I got to go back and research my hometown in a new way, as well as how almond orchards work, and the importance of bees to the farmers. What came out was Malevolent, a complete labor of love.

I can’t contain it any more–Jurassic World art

So, I’ve been nerding out over Jurassic World. Seeing as it comes out tomorrow, I figure, I might as well go on a concept art binge-post, you know?

I mean, the first Jurassic Park is why I called myself NetRaptor all those years ago. Having another JP movie is making me relieve my childhood, in the best way. I just wish I could let my kids watch it, but they’re still a bit too young. Besides, I want them to LIKE dinosaurs.

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Indominus Rex, by jamesdesign1

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Jurassic Park Wallpaper fanart by Professor Adagio

The Superstition Mountains – don’t read at night

First off, a cute baby pic, just because.

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So, I freaked myself out the other night. It was late, and my hubby hadn’t come to bed yet, so I was lying in bed, not falling asleep. There was a thunderstorm outside, and through the cracks in the blinds, I could see raindrops on the window, and see distant flashes of lightning. No thunder, though. Our window faces east, toward the Arizona Superstition Mountains, and I was thinking that the lightning must be up there.

That got me thinking about the weird stories I’ve heard about those mountains, and their weird name. So I whipped out my ipod and started reading about the myths and legends.

First, I found lots of stuff about the Lost Dutchman Mine. That, at least, is based on more or less historical fact. From Wikipedia, that bastion of reliability:

The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine (also known by similar names) is, according to legend, a rich gold mine hidden in the southwestern United States. The location is generally believed to be in the Superstition Mountains, near Apache Junction, east of Phoenix, Arizona. There have been many stories about how to find the mine, and each year people search for the mine. Some have died on the search.

The mine is named after German immigrant Jacob Waltz (c. 1810–1891), who purportedly discovered it in the 19th century and kept its location a secret. (“Dutchman” was a common American term for “German”, for example Pennsylvania Dutch; “Dutch” is the English cognate to the German demonym, “Deutsch”.)

The Lost Dutchman’s is perhaps the most famous lost mine in American history. Arizona place-name expert Byrd Granger wrote, as of 1977, the Lost Dutchman’s story had been printed or cited at least six times more often than two other fairly well-known tales, the story of Captain Kidd’s lost treasure, and the story of the Lost Pegleg mine in California. People have been seeking the Lost Dutchman’s mine since at least 1892,[1] while according to one estimate, 8,000 people annually made some effort to locate the Lost Dutchman’s mine.[2] Former Arizona Attorney General Bob Corbin is among those who have looked for the mine.[3] Some argue that there is little or no evidence for the mine’s existence, but others say that the main components of the story have at least some basis in fact.

All you have to do is google “Lost Dutchman Mine” to find news reports of people who died trying to find it. Like this guy who died in 2012. The paranormal sites have a field day, like this one or this one. This site has a nice list of a ton of people who have been found shot or had their heads cut off while looking for the mine.

My theory is, somebody’s already found it and is killing anybody who gets close.

Not weird enough? Here’s an overview of more weirdness:

From About.com:

This mountainous area in south central Arizona didn’t get its name for nothing. And white men weren’t the first to note its bad vibrations; the Apache Indians called it the Devil’s playground.

Among the reported strangeness are:

An entry into a subterranean world. Those who claim to have penetrated the tunnel tell of the remains of ancient structures and a spiral staircase that leads down into the bowels of earth. Some say Reptilian humanoids have come out of these portals.
Time and dimensional shifts. Mary Sutherland relates her weird experience of “apportaton” at Apache Junction.
Spirit faces in the rocks.
A legend that the mountains were once guarded by a race of pygmies.
Location of the famous “Lost Dutchman” mine.
Site of the Circlestone medicine wheel, 6,000 feet up in the mountains – “an artifact that could be as important as England’s Stonehenge,” according to some researchers.
During the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, numerous UFOs were sighted around Flat Iron and Bluff Springs Mountain, which is adjacent to Circlestone. In 1973, two campers reported seeing a UFO land and then take off from the Circlestone area.

All that stuff is intriguing enough, but then I clicked over to the Bigelow Ranch stuff in Utah.

This 480-acre cattle ranch in central Utah was so plagued by UFOs and other strange phenomena that its one-time owners, Terry and Gwen Sherman, were eager to get rid of it. A willing buyer was found in Las Vegas real estate tycoon Robert T. Bigelow because he was intrigued by the mysterious goings-on. He brought in a team of investigators and set up arrays of surveillance equipment to find out what was taking place.

Some have dubbed the ranch “the strangest place on Earth.”

Here’s just some of what was going on:

Unexplained cattle mutilations, and cattle that just disappeared. Ten of the Sherman’s cows reportedly vanished.
UFOs “the size of football fields.” And in 1980, a rancher claimed to have seen a 40-foot silver sphere on the ground of what later became the Sherman ranch.
Terry Sherman claimed to have actually seen aliens come out of one UFO. “It was a human type, over seven feet tall, decked out in a totally black uniform and very huge, very heavyset,” he reported.
Interdimensional portals that were seen to open in mid-air. The Shermans said they saw lights emerging from these doorways.
Floating balls of light, one of which might have toasted the family dogs. The Sherman’s three dogs vanished after chasing a ball of light. A circular burn mark was found on the ground near where the dogs were last seen.
Gwen Sherman was supposedly chased by several red balls of light while driving home one night.

Interested and getting slightly freaked out, I searched for alien abduction stories in the Superstitions. I wound up with this humdinger of a site.

This guy got mixed up with “aliens”, which then kept coming to his house and harassing his wife. This paragraph, in particular, freaked me out the worst.

Steiger continued: “Tim Beckley asked Scott about the Host. ‘There is one entity that comes through that calls itself the Host, whatever that
means,’ Scott attempted to explain. ‘It speaks in what sounds like some kind of computerized language. The voice seems to come out of me, an
inner voice that is not mine. The entity says that I am one with it. It says, “I am; I am” or “You are one with me.” When asked if it has a name, it
will just come back and say, “I am; I am.” (Note: According to Judeo-Christian teaching, as we read in the events surrounding Moses’ ascent of
Mt. Sinai, Almighty God alone can honestly profess that ‘I Am that I Am’, which in the original Hebrew means that He alone is self-existence and
not dependent on an outside force, as all other created beings are, and therefore is ‘God’. The events of molestation which took place against
Scott’s wife would indicate that ‘the Host’ IS NOT God, and therefore, as is the nature of the Infernals and the Serpent Races, it irreverently
seems to blaspheme Almighty God with such statements as ‘I AM’ – Branton)

These aliens start to sound like straight-up demons.

So, not having been freaked out enough, I looked up Vortexes.

Vortexes are areas of high energy concentrations, originating from magnetic, spiritual, or sometimes unknown sources. Additionally they are considered to be gateways or portals to other realms, both spiritual and dimensional. Vortexes typically exist where there are strong concentrations of gravitational anomalies, inturn creating an environment that can defy gravity, bend light, scare animals, twist plant life into contorted shapes, and cause humans to feel strange. Many vortexes have been shown to be associated with Ley Lines and have been found to be extremely strong at node points where the lines cross.

…because that’s all scientific and stuff. That particular site had a link to something else that mentioned ectoplasm. Thinking of slime and Ghostbusters, I clicked on it.

I wound up at this freaky-deaky story about two new-ager campers who used certains dates, etc. to find a certain vortex spot in the Superstitions, and camped there for the night.

For the next three hours they stared in awe at several life-size black figures circling the glow within the canyon. Some would circle the area in ever increasing circles, others would stay in the center of the glow. There were too many to count. The intensity of the glow increased almost to the intensity of daylight – a green eerie daylight. Not a sound was heard. Not a breeze was blowing. It was cool, but not cold. They could smell a strong odor of hyacinth and other flowers.

By 1:30am, their bodies were forced against the slope. Not a disabling force, but a powerful force. They could not move at all. They were almost helpless.

Off in the distance they observed one of the black shadowy figures coming in their direction. It appeared to be going its own way and then, it turned toward them. As it got closer they could see that it was neither climbing or flying. It was going through the motions of climbing, hand over hand, but it was a few feet off the ground.

It was moving toward them. Not a sound was heard except the pounding hearts of two individuals – instinctively wanting to run.

But run where? The slope was treacherous and they were precariously perched on it. The glow of the canyon provided enough light to visibly make out some form of a being – the likes of which neither one of them had ever seen before.

As it came closer, Katrina, although visibly shaken, felt safe within the sacred circle. Robert was more skeptical. He was afraid it was going to eat them and would have rather had a gun.

With every ounce of energy he could muster up, Robert took his camera and aimed it at the entity. When it was about 6 feet away, he took a picture of it. The flash of the camera illuminated the entity – then it disappeared.

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This was the point where I turned off my ipod and remained freaked out for quite a while.

How much of this is true? Heck, I don’t know. People sure believe it, though. What I pull out of all this: If you go searching for evil things, you’ll find them.