To every person who has supported my writing habit at any time, in any way – I want to thank you.
If you’ve ever taken the time to stop by my website and look around, or maybe even comment on a blog post – thank you.
If you’ve ever retweeted one of my posts on Twitter, or liked or reposted a message on Facebook – thank you.
If you’ve taken the time to read one of my books – thank you a million times over.
And if you’ve not only read the book but taken the time to post a review – well, words are not enough. I’d like to offer up a small gift as a token of my appreciation.
Everybody who posts a review of one of the novellas in the Dream Wars series – The Dream Runner (#1), The Dream Thief (#2), or The Dream Wars (#3) before next Sunday, November 17th, will be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. No need to answer any questions or enter any contests or sign up – entry will be automatic for all reviews posted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads before midnight PST on the 17th. And yes, if you post in more than one place, you get multiple entries.
If you’ve already posted a review, no worries – you are already entered.
Here are the books with links:
Again – thank you to each and every one of you.
You may or may not know that Susan Spann writes the Shinobi Mystery series, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. (Trust me – this is a thing you ought to know if you like reading mysteries even a tiny bit.) The first book, Claws of the Cat, released in July, and Susan has been looking forward to revealing the cover art for Book 2, which is available for pre-order now and releases on July 15, 2014.
Wait – hold on there – what the – STOP THIEF!!!!!!
Oh dear. I was SO excited about sharing the fabulous cover for Blade of the Samurai, and now it has been stolen by ninjas! Poor Susan will be looking far and wide for clues as to who stole the cover.
That is so very sad, but maybe we can help. The ninja thieves were not as slick as Hiro Hattori and have left behind a clue.
Can you guess what the object in the picture is, and what else appears with it on the cover?
Susan is offering a reward for your help. Leave a comment with your best guess as to what this object is, as well as what is missing, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win one of three great prizes*: a Barnes & Noble gift card, a ninja mug, or a set of ninjabread man cookie cutters. (Because, really, don’t all cookies want to be ninjas?)
You can find more clues (and more chances to leave a comment for the drawings) tomorrow on Julianne Douglas’s Writing the Renaissance and Thursday on Heather Webb’s Between the Sheets, as well as Friday at Susan’s blog*, where hopefully the entire cover will be revealed. (Assuming we can get it back from the ninjas.)
*You get one entry for each comment you leave (but a maximum of one comment per blog entry). Full rules at Susan’s blog: http://www.susanspann.com/?p=3741. Winners will be drawn at random from the total pool of comments on all of the reveal week contest posts.
Hey you – yes you! Did you remember to leave your comment?
The winner of the cover reveal prize, consisting of a penguin mug, hand painted with great love by my mother; chocolate; and a free early read of my upcoming novella, Dream Runner; goes to the lovely and talented Diana Paz!!
I’m not kidding about the lovely and talented part, either. Pop on over and check out Diana and her book, TIMESPELL, to see that I speak truth!
Thank you all so much for helping to share the cover love for WAKEWORLD. If you really wanted that penguin mug for yourself, take heart. There are more penguin mugs to come! Plus some hand painted penguin eggs and a bowl that is so many shades of awesome I’m tempted to keep it for myself. I’ll be giving these away when we get closer to launch day, which is now only about FOUR MONTHS AWAY!!! (Insert full-on muppet flail here)
I didn’t realize it was so close until just this second. Seriously. I did the triple-count-on-the-fingers-to-be-sure-move. Wow. I have much work to do.
Here’s a wish for you: Today, may you have at least one moment in which you are purely focused on someone or something that you love.
There are two parts to a cover reveal party;
1. The Cover. Here it is:
”Vivian Maylor is trying to hold it together. But her attempts to build a life with the man she loves seem doomed by the dragon inside her yearning to break free. Vivian is a dreamshifter, the last line of defense between reality and the dreamworld, and the only one of her kind.
Weston Jennings also believes he is the only one of his kind. He fears his powers as a dreamshifter, and resists learning to control them. After suffering a tragic loss, Weston heads deep into the woods of the Pacific Northwest to embrace a safe life of solitude. But when a terrible mistake leads to an innocent’s death, his guilt drives him to his former home, where he encounters what he never thought he would find: another shifter.
Now Vivian and Weston must work together to defeat a new threat to the dreamworld.”
And 2. The Party. Every good party should have prizes!! Here’s what I have for you:
A hand painted penguin mug filled with chocolate, plus a free e-copy of my soon-to-be-released novella DREAM RUNNER! Enter simply by sharing the WAKEWORLD cover somewhere on the net – your blog, FB, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other venue. Share the link with me, and you get entered to win! The more you share, the more entries and the better your chance of winning.
International entries are welcome and entries count through Monday, September 9, until Midnight PST.
(Note: Random Penguin and Friend live with me and would be very sad to leave, so they are not part of the prize package.)
Today I’m thrilled and privileged to host my friend Susan Spann as a guest. Susan’s debut mystery Claws of the Cat is a tightly woven mystery set in medieval Japan. Hiro Hattori is a Shinobi (“only a Chinese would say ninja”) and he takes us into a world so authentically Japanese that I begin to wonder whether Susan didn’t live there in another life. Today, Susan is talking about the joy of paying it forward.
Paying it Forward
As debut authors, we talk a lot about journeys to publication and the encouragement we received along the way.
Today I’d like to talk about paying it forward.
Last Thursday, I had a reading and signing at Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica, California. The crowd was fun, and engaged, and in many ways, I’d call it a perfect event.
After the books were signed and everyone left, I stayed behind to sign a few books for the store. When I finished, I noticed a shy young woman standing nearby—she wasn’t hard to spot, since we were alone in an empty room.
She approached me, shook my hand, and softly asked, “Ms. Spann, would you mind if I asked you some questions? I’m sorry, I haven’t actually read your books.”
I smiled and told her, “Don’t feel badly—this is my first one, and it released last week, so nobody else has read it either.”
She proceeded to ask me some fabulous questions about my writing process, including where I find inspiration and how I write through times of “block.” I suspected she was a writer too, and asked—and she seemed both pleased and surprised as she confirmed it. I suggested that “writer’s block” is often caused by a need to explore your characters or to make a change to the plot, and suggested some techniques for working through it. Journaling in the characters’ voices and adding “the unexpected” to a scene are two of the options that work for me.
I also told her to just keep writing. You can fix anything in editing as long as you’ve written down words to fix. Only an empty page is beyond repair.
I encouraged her to stay with it, even when the process is hard and the words don’t flow, and as I said it, I felt a sense of inverted deja vu—because it wasn’t so long ago that I was the timid writer asking questions of an author I admired.
Ten years ago, I attended the Maui Writers’ Conference and met James Rollins—then, as now, a favorite author of mine. He asked about my writing and took the time to answer my questions too. We spoke for several minutes, and though he may or may not remember the day, I will never forget that conversation or the encouragement he gave me. I hoped but didn’t truly believe I would have the chance to repay that wonderful moment.
Four nights ago, I finally paid it forward.
Publication brings an author many benefits. Some of them are financial, while others are measured in opportunity. Perhaps the most important—and among the most overlooked—is the chance to make a difference to someone else.
To readers and aspiring authors, published authors have a kind of magic. We inhabit a fascinating world that others want to live in. It doesn’t matter whether we’ve published one book or a hundred—from the perspective of those behind us on the road, we’ve seen and touched a unicorn.
That privilege also comes with an opportunity. I took it on Thursday, will take it again, and hope that others will choose to take it too. Wherever you are on the path to publication, look behind you. There are thousands of writers (and readers) on that path. When you meet one—take the time to truly listen and truly care. James Rollins did it for me, and his advice sustained me through some exceedingly difficult days. I will strive to ensure I am never too busy to listen and to offer a helping hand when I have the chance. I hope the rest of you will do the same, not only in writing but also with life in general.
Take the time to remember that people matter. Listen to them, and encourage them when you can. Not many things in life feel better than seeing your book in print, but the smile on the face of a person you’ve helped is one of them.
Bio: Susan Spann is a transactional attorney and former law school professor whose practice focuses on publishing law and business. Claws of the Cat, her debut shinobi mystery featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori, released on July 16, 2013, from Minotaur Books (for more information visit: http://us.macmillan.com/clawsofthecat/SusanSpann). Susan has a deep interest in Asian culture and has studied Mandarin and Japanese. Her hobbies include Asian cooking, fencing, traditional archery, martial arts, rock climbing, and horseback riding, and she keeps a marine aquarium where she raises seahorses and rare corals. You can find Susan online at http://www.susanspann.com, or on Twitter @SusanSpann.
My house looks a bit like a war zone and I’m staring directly at another plant I’ve managed to kill – or almost kill. It’s in that between stage where I’m debating whether I should try to save it or put the poor thing out of its misery. I don’t do well with plants, I fear. They suffer so quietly.
The cats and the dog are much better about reminding me that they have needs. The GDC, for example, will sit on my chest at 4 am and dig her claws into me, rhythmically and persistently, until I get up to add fresh food to her dish. The dog whines and puts his head in my lap, or just sits beside me while I write and stares into my face. If there was a way to market Link’s eyes as a guilt-inducement-motivational tool, I’d be a wealthy woman. Even the fish manage to look sad and hungry when I walk by their bowls.
The plants? By the time they start looking pitiful it’s usually too late.
Today, I’m going to have to do something about the house and the plant. Cleaning and tidying is in order, and maybe a call to the Plant Hospice. Any minute now, the Viking will wake and I’ll fix him his coffee too. And then the flurry begins.
But not now, not yet. It’s early morning and I have my coffee and a few minutes of silence.
Coffee’s on. And all is well.
I’m over at the Debutante Ball today, talking just a little bit about why it’s hard to write about my wonderful father, and a whole lot more about fathers and father figures in fiction. I would love to have you stop by.
I’d also say Happy Monday, but I’m pretty sure that’s the sort of statement that might jam the gears of time and space and create an anachronism or something alarming on a cosmic scale. So I’ll say only, go gently and be kind to yourself and those around you.
I’m fairly confident declaring that, but I did check the calendar just to be sure I’ve got it right. On Tuesday, I had a nagging feeling all day that it was Friday. A sense of approaching freedom, the desire to cut out early from work and get on with the weekend. On Wednesday, same thing. That good old “it must be Friday” feeling.
Now, Friday Feeling is a good and wonderful thing, except for when it isn’t Friday.
Nothing like spending a day in expectation of a weekend when that weekend is still days and days away.
But today – Thursday is my Friday. I’m taking tomorrow off in honor of this being my youngest son’s high school graduation weekend. Of course, this will not be so much in the interest of leisure and more focused on frenzied cleaning, shopping, cooking and that sort of thing. But still. Weekend.
Hopefully by next week I’ll have my days sorted out in the usual way. But you never know.
It’s possible that I’ve inadvertently walked into a time scrambler and things will never be normal again.
Play it safe or take the risk? What’s your style?
Mine is mixed – safe for real life, and diving into risk with the writing. I’m talking about this today over at the Debutante Ball – would love to have you stop by and drop a comment.
Here’s hoping Monday is kind to us all.
I am a re-reader of books. I have heard that some of you are not, that you read a book once and that is the end of the experience for you. This confuses me. Even a good mystery or thriller is usually worth a second read if I’ve let it sit for a year or two. Even with shelves currently full of the new and unread, some of them titles I’m looking forward to, I will sometimes pick up an old favorite.
At the moment I’m re-reading Odd Thomas, my favorite Dean Koontz novel ever.
There are a couple of reasons why I picked it up again at this point in time.
Reason Number One started at my last book signing. I was sitting at my little island of a table watching customers come and go, and listening in on a conversation going on at the NOOK counter right next to me. The very nice Barnes and Noble employee was helping a customer find some books to load onto his Nook. I heard her say, “Have you read Odd Thomas?” and my ears pricked up at once.
“No,” the customer said. “What’s it about?”
“I don’t know, actually, but a lot of people seem to like it.”
I couldn’t help myself, and was out of my chair and joining the conversation in a flash. The process of explaining the wonders of Odd Thomas to an uninitiated reader wakened all of my own love of the book and put it front and center in my head. It turns out I can be a persuasive saleswoman as long as the book in question doesn’t happen to be my own!
Reason Number Two has to do with my own writing process. Usually when I write fiction it’s in third person – this is most comfortable for me since I like to get inside the heads of more than one character in a story. But the novella I’m writing definitely needs to be told by the main character. (Her name is Jesse, and you will hear a lot about her in the near future, I’m sure). Anyway. I was looking for examples of first person done really well, and Odd Thomas was already front and center in my head.
What is it that I love about this book? Well, pretty much everything. But it’s the voice that grabbed me initially, and the writing.
This, for example, is how the book begins:
“My name is Odd Thomas, though in this age when fame is the altar at which most people worship, I am not sure why you should care who I am or that I exist.
I am not a celebrity. I am not the child of a celebrity. I have never been married to, never been abused by, and never provided a kidney for transplantation into any celebrity. furthermore, I have no desire to be a celebrity.”
Just that little bit tells me that I like Odd Thomas. That he has a sense of humor and irony. That I want to hang out with him for a bit. And then I fall in love with the story and I’m totally in.
Of course, picking up a book like this as a textbook for my own writing is a dangerous thing and I’m limiting my contact. Jesse is a very different character than Odd, and it would be disastrous if she starts to sound like him. So I’m reading in dribs and drabs and taking time to enjoy, deeply, in a way that can only happen on a re-read. The first time through I have to read fast to find out what happens. But after that, it’s all about hanging out with friends and enjoying the writing along the way.
What about you? Are you a re-reader or not? Feel free to share a few lines from a favorite book if you have the time and inclination.